Bloc Party are one of the only British 'rock' bands I care deeply about. Their last three albums have often thrilled me. They are supremos when it comes to jagged, instantaneous punk-pop tunes fuelled by vitriol and glee. Nigerian lead singer Kele Okereke can get it right lyrically. Russell Lissack's guitar licks come across as rare birds of paradise in a PNG highland glade or a firefight in Libya. Bloc Party, time and again, kick you in the guts and remind you you're lucky to be alive.
Recorded in New York, the band's latest album, Four, is hard to define. It has polarised me after two and a bit listens. It is, in turns, blistering, jagged, spiky, peculiar, fascinating, frustrating, odd, gorgeous, sublime and hollow. Think Blur meeting Aphex Twin in a bad street in South London at about 4am. There are interview/studio outtakes amounting to little (Kele? talking about someone's infected arm and the baby spiders that emerged from it), deep south vibes, nu-metal panic attacks, lost strings, buried vocals, words that can barely be made out, a track with a wall-of-Smashing-Pumpkins'-guitars-sound featuring an ending where I expected Billy Corgan to start chiming in with Kele any second (so I began imitating Billy in the car!), lacklustre lyrics and choruses you can't singalong with. As well as the odd golden moment where everything is in accordance and your heart wants to explode.
I really don't know what all this means. All I know is that I really want to listen to it again, very loudly and acknowledge how grand it is to be breathing.
LJ, August 22 2012.