Flashback to the mid-2000s: The Strokes have made dance-rock cool, while bands like Muse and Franz Ferdinand are making their big breaks by channeling the likes of The Who, Blur, and Duran Duran. Enter Bloc Party, a young indie-rock quartet from London that combines these two trends flawlessly, drawing attention to the burgeoning UK indie-rock scene. Between then and now, the members of Bloc Party went on to release three studio albums, two remix albums, and three solo/side-project efforts. Now the recently-reunited group is back with a vengeance, working up to their fourth album (the aptly-titled Four) with a whirlwind series of tour dates including top-tier spots at both HARD Summer and Lollapalooza. So what’d you miss?
In recent years it’s become increasingly apparent that lead singer Kele Okereke always wanted to make pop music. Their debut Silent Alarm, while a great indie-rock record, was built heavily around its drum and bass parts, making for a muscular and oftentimes dance-able soundtrack. Their follow-up A Weekend In The City followed a similar pattern, but the incorporation of a drum machine and other electronic elements on their third album Intimacy pushed the band further away from the band’s post-punk roots. When Bloc Party announced their hiatus in 2009 in order to focus on each member’s side-projects, Kele dove headfirst into the electro house scene with his solo debut The Boxer, signaling a far cry from the guitarwork of his band’s first release. “It’s not and it was never my intention to make [a dance record] – I’ve made a pop record,” Kele explained about his solo album. “It was more about using the sounds and the textures you hear from clubbing and putting it in a pop format.”
With such a drastic change in Kele’s musical direction, it became easy for Bloc Party fans to doubt the possibility of a reunion. Late last year rumors abounded that the rest of the band was moving on without Kele, going so far as to book sessions in a rehearsal studio without his knowledge. These rumors were dispelled though, and soon enough the band announced the end of their hiatus by teasing their new album Four, due out August 20th.
Which brings us to today. Earlier this month Bloc Party released Four’s first single “Octopus,” a catchy tune backed with the angular guitars and live drumming that was a staple of their earlier material. More recently, they’ve offered a slower cut titled “Day Four” that harkens back to the sweet crooning of fan-favorites like “This Modern Love.” The new track doesn’t do much by way of justifying Bloc Party’s spot as the headliner of an electronic music festival like HARD, but it does offer a glimmer of hope for those awaiting a return to form from the indie-rockers. Check both of the new tracks out below, and don’t forget to check them out at HARD or on their upcoming summer tour.
Bloc Party are playing on Friday from 11:30-12:30 on the Hard Stage at HARD Summer.