As is fairly obviously stated by the title, this is the fourth album from the British Quartet following on from 2008’s Intimacy. Interestingly, it’s produced by Alex Newport from grunge metallers Fudge Tunnel and thrash terrorists Nailbomb. Four sounds nothing like those acts however!
Anyone familiar with this band will know what to expect. Danceable post punk guitar pop is probably as apt a description as I can come up with just to satisfy the pigeonholers out there. This album is no real departure from their earlier works, following much the same format. Crisp guitars and sparse drum beats form the basis for the material on offer with vocalist Kele Okereke laying his mostly smooth crooning over the top of this basis, although he offers the odd yelp and scream here and there.
Unfortunately, the overall feel of this album is that of wimpy, limp-wristed guitar pop with no real hooks or sing-a-long catchiness. Much of it is rather formless and devoid of any direction or focus and this is disappointing as the band are capable of much better output.
The other problem I have with this album is that it’s mostly HIGHLY derivative and unoriginal. One listen will allow you to offhandedly pontificate “Oh that sounds like The Police…that sounds like Franz Ferdinand…that sounds like Primal Scream….that sounds like Television…etc etc”. There is also the annoying presence of studio banter between tracks which is not informative or interesting, it’s boring and bloody irritating!
It’s not all bad news though, “Real Talk” features Russell Lissack’s most inventive and creative guitar work on the album, with some strange and haunting chord progressions driving the song along until the surprising (and surprisingly effective) utilization of a banjo of all things, draws the track to a close. The very successful single “Octopus” is unremarkable in my opinion except for the guitar solo which is quite interesting, but under a harsh light it sounds like a drunk, stoned and half asleep Steve Howe. “Coliseum” and “We Are Not Good People” are actually really hard rocking numbers that make you wanna stomp your feet and punch the air enthusiastically, which is all well and good except….they are a bleedingly obvious rip off of Queens Of The Stone Age! “What? More blatant ripoffery?” you ask. Sadly, yes.
This band are talented enough. They don’t need to be this derivative! The album smacks of laziness in this regard and while there are enough highlights to prevent it from becoming a complete disaster, it stumbles badly and in the end falls flat on its face.