Album: Kele, The Boxer (Wichita)
The Bloc Party is over but Kele comes out fighting
Sunday 20 June 2010
It takes some Cojones to do what Kele Okereke is doing.
Right at the point where the, when all's said and done, just-above-average Bloc Party had reached arena-filling, festival-headlining status, he's slammed the brakes on that runaway juggernaut, stepped out of the cab and quietly walked across the fields in a completely different direction.
The glorious Armand Van Helden remix of Bloc Party's "Signs" was arguably a foreshadowing, and with his debut solo album, Okereke – who says he's "sick of indie music" (join the club, pal) – has thrown himself into the deep end of dance culture. It's as if Kele actually wants to hear his own music in the clubs he frequents, not just token remixes thereof.
Opener "Walk Tall" is a faux-military marching chant given a hardcore rave mangling. "On the Lam" is a nifty slice of subtle house-pop à la Robyn's "With Every Heartbeat", with intriguing folie d'amour lyrics ("I've suddenly flipped out/ And I'm hiring a detective to find out where I've been... ."). The single "Tenderoni" (not a Chromeo cover, although the shared title might be another clue to Kele's recent listening) is clichéd clubland fare – you know exactly where the sudden dips and the big kickbacks are gonna come – but not a bad example thereof. "The Other Side", an Afropop/glitchcore, is what Talking Heads might sound like if they'd emerged in 2007, not 1977.
The tempo subsides on "Everything You Wanted", a break-up song which has Kele emoting "I can see the bags in the empty hallway..." over twink- ling pianos. The nocturnal confessional "Unholy Thoughts", a tale of meeting a "devil" at an aftershow, getting in a cab, doing coke and so on, is the only track that might have been swept up off Bloc Party's studio floor. The xylophone-spangled "Rise" is another motivational message – surely directed at himself as much as anyone else – while "All the Things I Could Never Say" is undeniably a relationship song, its title is all too tempting to read as an over-arching umbrella for this entire record: he's expressing here what he couldn't in Bloc Party.
If that band ever do reconvene, they'll sound 10 times better from now on for The Boxer existing. And if they don't, who cares? We've got a brave new pop star.
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