Album Review: Kele – The Boxer

By on Wednesday, 9th June 2010 at 12:00 pm

Hats off to Kele Okereke. He’s not for one for sitting still, is he? Despite the considerable success Bloc Party achieved from the spiky guitar of 2006’s ‘Silent Alarm’, Kele and co weren’t up for sticking to this tried and tested indie formula. The next two albums swiftly saw the band evolve into a mass of experimentation, particularly shooting for a more electronic take on their music – to the pleasure of some fans, but to the upset of a fair few others. Still, seemingly not content with the ultimate synth smash of ‘Intimacy’, Bloc Party’s third album released in 2008, frontman Kele has taken his electronic tirade all the more further with his debut solo album ‘The Boxer’, released June 21st.

From the opening dubstep playground chants of ‘Walk Tall’, ‘The Boxer’ leads us to the poppy vocal line of ‘On the Lam’, which sees Kele’s voice pitched to feminine heights. Laid down on some Ministry of Sound beats, podiums and strobe light imagery fills the brain as I listen to this more Bump & Flex than Bloc Party track.

This isn’t a criticism, however, but more to highlight the fact that if you’ve come to ‘The Boxer’ seeking ‘Helicopters’ and ‘Banquets’ well, tread carefully as you’re in for a surprise.

The awesome ‘Tenderoni’, track three of ‘The Boxer’, takes a tip or two from Bodyrox’s 2006 hit, ‘Yeah Yeah’. The brooding synths of the verses continue on until the chorus finally explodes into a crescendo of electronica emotion – robotic, crunchy and with a banging beat that will swim amid the ceilings of clubs for the coming months.

Kele – Tenderoni

Track five marks a notable change of sound in the album. Things grow a little less artificial with ‘Everything You Wanted’, which echoes vintage Bloc Party as Kele sings with a rousing passion (“I could have given you everything you wanted, everything you needed!”) above a skipping piano. The sinister synths are still there, but turned down a notch, resulting in one of the least intense electronica tracks on the album – alongside the tight strings of ‘The New Rules’. This is a surprisingly dainty duet with songstress Jodie Scantlebury, and provides a delicate audio intermission between the heavy synths of the rest of the album. Meanwhile, Joy Division-esque ‘Unholy Thoughts’ – with it’s clapping drums and wizzy guitar – certainly sounds like a nod to retro Bloc Party before it ultimately lands itself in a swirl of light and trippy vocals.

Synths return with a vengeance at the final point of the album. Don’t be fooled by the innocent, nursery rhyme-like introduction to track eight, ‘Rise’, as it soon gives way to an absolute mass of old school dance beats, while the beautiful ‘All the Things I Could Never Say’ is a trance number laden by dance synths and morose lyrics of heartbreak – “You’re making me ill. You’re making me older. You’re making me ill”. ‘The Boxer’ finally comes to a close, however, with an uplifting anthem about appreciating life titled ‘Yesterday’s Gone’. Angelic, bright synths add to the undoubtedly cathartic track as Kele passionately sings “Open the window! Let the sun light kiss your face. These days are golden, golden!” – certainly concluding the album on an incredibly touching note.

To conclude, Kele’s interest in electronic music has been clear ever since the days of ‘A Weekend in the City’. He’s finally managed, however, to take this passion by the horns with ‘The Boxer’- a record that is ultimately an emotional mass of synth hooks that’ll go down in the world of electronica with ease – undoubtedly filling up commerical radio waves on the way. How the record will go down with the more guitar-friendly fans of old, well, that remains to be seen. Similarly, how the typically doomed, debut breakaway solo album will pan out for Kele, we’re not yet sure. But let’s just say, right now, he is certainly not struggling without the backing of those three mates of his..

The CD is out in the shops on 21st June (just two weeks away), and you can pre-order the CD from Amazon for £8.93.

MP3: Kele – Tenderoni (Larry Tee and Beckwith Remix)

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One Response

1:50 am
21st July 2010

if you are going to pass yourself off as a journalist, perhaps some basic use of english: Kele has took his electronic tirade all the more further

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