It’s been four years since UK outfit Bloc Party released their fragrant, electronic-hinged third LP, Intimacy. Following the band’s hiatus in the Fall of 2009 was a few solo releases and some tours to support them, but for close to two years, the rumors churned on if new material, or a continued rank would surface. Named for those four years they’ve been absent from the scene, the quartet’s new set, simply, Four, drops August 21st via Frenchkiss. To support the return and to capture a session for LA mainstay station, KCRW and their show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, the band played an intimate teaser show at The Berkeley Street Studio in Santa Monica last night.

A string of North American dates looming, including HARD Summer Festival and a trio of sold out shows next week at Terminal 5 in New York, the quartet played 11 songs, ten of which appear on Four, to a crowd of about 200. Quickly into the set, bassist Gordon Moakes asked if they “were giving [us] alcohol,” to which, most of the crowd replied with cheers. Only, the moment couldn’t help but feel momentarily awkward, coming from atop one of the smallest, brightest, stages he and his band has been on in some time no doubt. Opening tracks “So He Begins to Lie” and “3×3″ (which the band joked was about sex adventures in Cancun), proved steady tastes of the new material, but it was “Kettling,” just before Jason Bentley asked his interview questions that proved an early standout. The song is thick, heavy and built on a bed of almost-metal chugging. Bentley, mentioning other signifyers of this- the “muscular guitars” throughout-  asked if this was “their metal phase” to which Kele seemed to disagree, calling it instead, “the most tender record” they’ve done. Sheding some light on the break itself, the singer shared that after his solo record, he “knew by the end of 2010 that I missed my bandmates.”

The set proved a satisfying scoop of what’s new with Bloc Party. Throughout the evening, I noticed a focus on their roots, rather than the booming percussive elements and sampled club-friendly sequences of their previous two albums, the angular guitars are present again and with good measure. There’s weighty chugging like a Smashing Pumpkins’ 93-’96 guitar line on some, highly danceable, almost no wave guitars on others (“Team A” was great for this) and pure vintage BP guitars getting tender, building along for the song’s ride (“Day 4″). It was nice to wrap it all up with an encore of the only old song they played, “This Modern Love.”

The night’s set list and video for Four‘s first single, “Octopus” are below.

Photos by Jeremiah Garcia for KCRW

So He Begins to Lie
Real talk

Black crown
Day 4
Team A

This Modern Love