This review originally ran in AP 290.
The new offering from Bloc Party is sprinkled with some intra-band asides and buzzing amps, signifiers for a “being there” audio-verité moment. It makes sense: Much of Four sounds like some dudes in a small room sacrificing their personal space in service to playing music. Producer Alex Newport eliminated the electronics that dominated (some would say “marred”) 2008’s Intimacy, choosing instead to push guitarist Russell Lissack and frontman Kele Okereke higher in the mix. The standard Party lines are still there (guitars on stuttering delay, drummer Matt Tong’s solid timekeeping), but now the amps are way up, and you’re getting the sinister mindfuck (“3X3,” “Coliseum”) with the bone-snapping crunch. But it’s not all thud and hearing damage: “Real Talk” and “Day Four” are tender respites with chiming guitar figures that would make Johnny Marr smile and buy them a round. “V.A.L.I.S.” ponders Interpol recording for Motown, powered by Okereke’s “Show, show, show me the way” sing-along hook. The vicious “We’re Not Good People” stuns with a pulsing, near-metal urgency that will lead you to act on your darkest urges—prior to playing the album again. And if you’re not stupid, you will.