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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Kele—The Boxer

Music

While the debut solo album from Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke will inevitably draw many comparisons to his previous work with the band (currently on hiatus), The Boxer is a whole new animal for Okereke. The album is a synth-heavy electronic project which Okereke admits was a bit of an experiment, building up songs around programmed drum beats—something he’d never done before. Rather than sounding like a collection of Bloc Party b-sides there is a freshness to the album and the charm of tentatively matched synths and samples.

Okereke’s distinctive vocal style is used to full strength on The Boxer, playing up to what is arguably his most important instrument. From the upbeat, rippling chant of ‘Walk Tall’, the smooth rumblings of first single ‘Tenderoni’, to the gusty passion of ‘Everything You Wanted’, there seem to be no bounds to Okereke’s voice and he’s not afraid of trying different settings for each song, knowing exactly when to throw it into another gear.

Lyrically the songs seem more introspective and evolved since his Bloc Party days. On ‘New Rules’ Okereke confesses “I’m learning to be laid back about certain things,” and judging from the sounds of things—on this song in particular—he’s not lying. Despite the synths and electronic experiment, The Boxer does have a pleasant, laid back atmosphere to it. The ponderous, soul-baring lyrics make the album as a whole seem more honest and personal than a lot of his previous work.

While The Boxer is a buoyant, optimistic and, for the most part, enjoyable album, it does at times err dangerously close to self-indulgence. A few tracks start to drag and get repetitive towards the ends. The burgeoning beauty of the aforementioned ‘New Rules’ is damn near ruined by a looping message-service sample. Luckily for Kele he shuts it up just before it can become a total deal breaker. Though this chip off the old Bloc may not please all, its diversity and integrity will appeal to many.

[ssba]

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  1. mmmmm, “tenderoni” appeals to me…the rest of the album, though so similar just doesn’t touch me. but a great review that gets to what i feel about things!

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