Bloc Party - Four

Embrace your new leaders; Bloc Party are back.

Label: French Kiss Records

Rating: 8

‘It’s good, but it’s no ‘Silent Alarm’.’

That’s one statement anyone with an internet connection and even a passing interest in Bloc Party will have read more than once. A debut album that marked the quartet out as both brilliant and most likely smarter than their peers, in retrospect it’s easily one of the stand out records of its era. Since its release, it’s gone on to become almost mythical. No longer do you hear complaints about leaving off early single ‘Little Thoughts’ (though now you mention it… - Ed) - by wide regard, it’s almost perfect.

‘Four’ is better. Or at the very least as good.

Brave words, maybe, but the reunited Bloc Party have clearly come to some pretty definitive conclusions. While much of their last record ‘Intimacy’, and frontman Kele Okereke’s solo work, may have had fans predicting something with more electronic overtones, ‘Four’ is exactly the opposite. Returning to the overtly angular guitar pop of their earlier work, and grafting on some almighty riffs, this is one album that isn’t messing around.

It’s a mood best summed up by ‘Kettling’. With an obvious nod to last summer’s riots, it’s the hundred foot high Godzilla of a guitar part that announces Bloc Party’s second coming. Shifting from ground shaking to wailing solo, it’s both a size twelve Doc Martin boot in the face of complacency and a nod towards the obvious influence of producer Alex Newport. Previously working with bassist Gordon Moakes on Young Legionnaire, and with credits including At The Drive-In, there are few better to bring the noise.

Not that it’s all about the rock. The screaming (yes, screaming) climax of ‘Coliseum’ gives away to the pop hooks of ‘V.A.L.I.S.’, with backing vocals so catchy they’re almost certain to come with a warning. There’s ‘Day Four’, a track that comes as close to hitting the heights of ‘So Here We Are’ as you’re likely to find, and the mind-bendingly brilliant ‘Truth’ - mixing the best of both worlds with a lyric that more than matches its billing.

The class of 2005 are a much maligned bunch, but then Bloc Party never really fit in with the crowd. When the world turns right, you can be sure they’ll go left - and so as a million broadsheet editorials decree the death of guitar music, this lot embrace it like a long lost friend. The closing riff of ‘We Are Not Good People’, sounding like Death From Above 1979 let off the leash, says it louder than anything else. The tide is turning. Embrace your new leaders; Bloc Party are back.