Somehow, with a fourth album, some of the hype, the excitement, wears off. It’s almost inevitable that by the time you’re over thirty tracks deep into a career, there’s never going to be the same level of unmitigated enthusiasm for the stuff you’re putting out as there was when you were new and unheard of on the scene. Not only does it get harder to drum up interest with every new album but even with PR firms and labels sent into overdrive, the buzz half-life for bands seems to diminish significantly with each release. So it was with Bloc Party’s ‘4’. A startling reminder that the little 2005 London band that could had transformed into the mega rock band that would and had now released four LPs in seven years, ‘4’ was variously described as a new direction (again), a return to ‘Silent Alarm’ form and any number of amalgamations in between. And then people stopped describing it at all. And I haven’t heard about it for a couple of months. And I should have.
‘Truth’ is a ridiculously good song. I’ve been using ‘ridiculous’ as a bolstering adjective with alarming frequency lately but I mean it here in the sense of ‘absurd’ rather than in any derogatory, derisive way. It seems to me to have the best of everything that Bloc Party have created over those seven years distilled into three minutes of what might otherwise be labelled as middle-of-the-road type indie rock. There is certainly some truth to that hypothetical assertion. Besides the wonderfully pretty, inflected whistled melodies (really a 90s-style indulgence that you probably couldn’t get away with without being as self-assured as Bloc Party), the modality of the whole piece remains fairly conservative. Instead, all the sentiment and intensity of the piece is coiled up in trademark tight guitar lines and in the yawning spaces between Kele’s well-chosen words.
In stark contrast to the crispness of the instrumental recording, there is a sincere, almost unconscious investment in Bloc Party’s lyricism by virtue of the way Kele’s breathing and all the minutiae of his locution are recorded on track. In the measured way he delivers his lines, we wait in anticipation of what is to come. And with ‘Truth’, the band takes what is now a well-worn path in producing a stellar, personal ode to love. Somewhere along the way, between writing fairly inflammatory immigration stuff and other positively tense material, Bloc Party got mighty good at writing love songs. It’s songs like ‘Truth’, incredibly restrained and all the more powerful for it, that mean that even where the sheer excitement around each subsequent album might be slowly dwindling, Bloc Party will remain a force to be reckoned with for years to come. This is not music that demands your attention nor boisterously proclaims its arrival. Bloc Party are past that. ‘Truth’ is lessons learned, concentrated and delicate.
Bloc Party – Truth