Four (Bloc Party album)

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Four
Album cover showing four thin circles within each other, coloured red, blue, yellow and green leading inwards, on a black background.
Studio album by Bloc Party
Released 20 August 2012
Recorded October 2011 – April 2012 at Stratosphere Sound, New York City
Genre Indie rock, post-punk revival, alternative rock
Length 43:29
Label Frenchkiss
Producer Alex Newport
Bloc Party chronology
Intimacy
(2008)
Four
(2012)
The Nextwave Sessions
(2013)
Singles from Four
  1. "Octopus"
    Released: 11 July 2012[1]
  2. "Kettling"
    Released: 12 November 2012[2]
  3. "Truth"
    Released: 25 February 2013[3]

Four is the fourth studio album by British indie rock band Bloc Party. It was recorded in late 2011 and early 2012 at Stratosphere Sound, New York City, with producer Alex Newport. Newport also produced Wreckonomics—the EP of bassist Gordon Moakes' side project, Young Legionnaire. It was released on 20 August 2012 on independent label Frenchkiss Records,[4] and was made available to stream the week preceding its release. The album peaked at number 3 in the UK Albums Chart, and at number 36 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States.[5][6]

Despite four years of hiatus making this the largest gap between album releases, the band recorded the album using a more guitar-oriented sound, reminiscent of their debut album, Silent Alarm.

Origins and recording[edit]

Following the release of electronic music-inspired third album Intimacy in 2008 and single "One More Chance" the following year, Bloc Party went on an indefinite hiatus as their contract with Wichita came to an end.[7] During the break, members of the band continued with various side projects; lead guitarist Russell Lissack returned to Pin Me Down and joined Ash for a number of live dates,[8][9] multi-instrumentalist Gordon Moakes formed Young Legionnaire,[10] and frontman Kele Okereke released debut solo album The Boxer.[11] During this period, rumours spread about the future of the band; in interviews with NME, Okereke said he feared being "fired", and Lissack later implied the band were seeking a new vocalist.[12][13] Rumours of a reunion were fuelled by a Christmas photograph circulated on Twitter showing all four members of the band together, and four months later Lissack confirmed the group's intention to record a new album.[14]

Four was recorded between winter 2011 and spring 2012 at Stratosphere Sound in New York City.[15] The idea to record in New York with producer Alex Newport came about after Okereke and drummer Matt Tong relocated to Manhattan. Initially the band rehearsed material then recorded it soon after. Okereke told BBC 1 presenter Zane Lowe that recording of the rehearsed material added to the album's live sound and that the album itself was mainly recorded live with very few takes.

Content[edit]

Although many of the songs were written in studio in rehearsal sessions, some songs, such as the album's opener "So He Begins to Lie", were written prior to recording, after an idea from guitarist Russell Lissack. Other songs, such as the lead single "Octopus" came about from Lissack's experimentation with effects pedals and loops. Okereke, who wrote all of the album's lyrics, based songs on a wide range of issues. "Team A" is said to be based on the New York drug scene, and "V.A.L.I.S." based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Philip K. Dick. Other songs, such as "So He Begins to Lie", were based on reality television.[15]

Promotion and release[edit]

The album was officially announced in a blog post by Okereke. In the post Okereke revealed the album title and cover art and stated that the album was the best thing that the band had ever done, making note of the fact that they wanted to challenge themselves by not "relying on protools or the invisible grid that seems to be mapping out all of popular music these days." The goal of the album was to create a sound that resembled four people playing in a room, a return to the formula of their debut album Silent Alarm.[16]

The album's cover art was designed by bassist Gordon Moakes. The four circles is said to represent a different member of the band. The colour red represents Okereke, blue represents Moakes, yellow Lissack and green Tong.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 68/100[17]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[18]
BBC Music favourable[19]
Clash 8/10[20]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[21]
The Independent 3/5 stars[22]
Pitchfork 4.9/10[23]
The Observer 4/5 stars[24]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[25]
The Quietus mixed[26]
Under the Radar 4/10 stars[27]

Four received "generally favourable reviews" from critics; at Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 68 based on 34 reviews.[17] The Observer's Phil Mongrendien has praised the album's "urgency" and said it bears "the sound of a band rediscovering what made them so special in the first place"[24] While criticising the "hesitant and unpolished" slower tracks, a review by Jaime Gill on the BBC Music website remarked that Bloc Party now sound "full of potential where just four years ago they sounded depleted" and touted the record as "2012's most exciting guitar album".[19]

However, the album also received mixed reviews. Ian Cohen from Pitchfork was more critical, however, criticising what he calls a "revisionist history" attempt to move back to a guitar-focused sound, and saying that the band "don't have the physical stamina to properly recreate Silent Alarm."[23] Marc Burrows of Drowned In Sound felt the record lacked "instant classics" but was "considerably more consistent, and consistently enjoyable... than either of its predecessors".[21] Writing for The Quietus, Matthew Foster said that while the record is "laced with some of the band's hands-down strongest work", citing "The Healing" and "Truth" as examples, the louder tracks such as "Kettling" suffer from what he called a "reliance on the insta-drama of shredding and shrieking".[26] Under the Radar pointed a certain "nonchalance" and suggested that "the album is never really able to build its momentum". Yet, Selena Fragassi noted that the single "Octopus" stood out for guitarist Russell Lissack's work.[27]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Bloc Party

No. Title Length
1. "So He Begins to Lie"   3:34
2. "3x3"   2:39
3. "Octopus"   3:05
4. "Real Talk"   4:14
5. "Kettling"   3:41
6. "Day Four"   4:11
7. "Coliseum"   2:29
8. "V.A.L.I.S."   3:20
9. "Team A"   4:37
10. "Truth"   4:00
11. "The Healing"   4:19
12. "We Are Not Good People"   3:20

Personnel[edit]

The people involved in the making of Four are the following:[15]

Bloc Party
Additional musicians
  • Marika Hughes – cello
  • Forest Christenson – violin
  • Karen Piper – additional vocals
Technical personnel

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2012) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[31] 3
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[32] 10
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[33] 2
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[34] 7
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[35] 9
Dutch Albums (MegaCharts)[36] 21
French Albums (SNEP)[37] 21
Irish Albums (IRMA)[38] 10
New Zealand Albums (Recorded Music NZ)[39] 17
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[40] 95
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[41] 57
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[42] 16
UK Albums (OCC)[43] 3
US Billboard 200[44] 36

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Watch 'Octopus'!". Bloc Party. 10 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "Kettling!". Bloc Party. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Truth EP Announced". Bloc Party. 4 October 2012. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Bloc Party name their new album". NME. 31 May 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Bloc Party reveal tracklisting for new album 'Four'". NME. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 25 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Adams, Sean (7 December 2011). "Free Download: 'Killdozer' by Young Legionnaire". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 
  7. ^ "Bloc Party: 'We might never make a record again'". NME. 29 July 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Bloc Party's Russell Lissack gears up side project again". NME. 22 January 2010. Retrieved 23 January 2010. 
  9. ^ Bloc Party's Russell Lissack to join Ash for UK tour NME, 16 March 2010
  10. ^ Frazer, Bear (8 July 2011). "Music Snobs Love Young Legionnaire". Red Bull. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke working on solo album". NME. 4 November 2009. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  12. ^ "Bloc Party auditioning for new singers as they split from Kele Okereke". Metro. 28 September 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  13. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke: 'I hope I haven't been fired from the band'". NME. 20 September 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  14. ^ Michaels, Sean (6 April 2011). "Bloc Party back together for new album". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c Four (CD booklet). Bloc Party. London: EMI. 2012. 
  16. ^ "Bloc Party's Kele Okereke: New Record Is 'Quite Visceral and Confrontational' | Music News". Rolling Stone. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  17. ^ a b "Four — Bloc Party". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  18. ^ Phares, Heather (14 August 2012). "Review: Four". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  19. ^ a b Gill, Jaime (10 August 2012). "Review of Bloc Party — Four". BBC Music (BBC Online). Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  20. ^ Carson, Jamie (14 August 2012). "Bloc Party — Four". Clash. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  21. ^ a b Burrows, Marc (13 August 2012). "Bloc Party: Four". Drowned in Sound (Silentway Ltd). Retrieved 13 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Gill, Andy (18 August 2012). "Album: Bloc Party, Four (Frenchkiss)". The Independent. Retrieved 18 August 2012. 
  23. ^ a b Cohen, Ian (15 August 2012). "Bloc Party — Four: Album review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  24. ^ a b Mongredien, Phil (19 August 2012). "Bloc Party: Four – review". The Observer (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
  25. ^ Liedel, Kevin (16 August 2012). "Bloc Party: Four". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Foster, Matthew (21 August 2012). "Review: Four". The Quietus. Retrieved 25 August 2012. 
  27. ^ a b Fragassi, Selena (20 August 2012). "Bloc Party — Four". Under the Radar. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  28. ^ "Four Deluxe Edition — Bloc Party". Amazon.com. Retrieved 26 June 2012. 
  29. ^ "iTunes - Music - FOUR (Deluxe Version) by Bloc Party". iTunes. 2013-08-16. 
  30. ^ "Four by Bloc Party". iTunes. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  31. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Australiancharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  32. ^ "Bloc Party - Four" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  33. ^ "Bloc Party – Four" (in Dutch). Ultratop.be. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  34. ^ "Bloc Party – Four" (in French). Ultratop.be. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  35. ^ "Bloc Party Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Canadian Albums Chart for Bloc Party. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  36. ^ "Bloc Party – Four" (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  37. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Lescharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  38. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 34, 2012". Chart-Track.co.uk. IRMA. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  39. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  40. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Spanishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  41. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Swedishcharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  42. ^ "Bloc Party – Four". Swisscharts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  43. ^ "Bloc Party | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  44. ^ "Bloc Party Album & Song Chart History" Billboard 200 for Bloc Party. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 10 December 2013.