Kele - The Boxer

2010-09-02 09:28
For the past few years, Kele Okereke's Bloc Party bandmates have endured his increasing dance music tendencies. Now it's got to the point where it's like, "Okay man, you go off and do your own thing. Call us when you're ready."

First impressions: he's gone too far. He's officially dropped Okereke from his name, hit the gym and his album art looks more like the latest Kanye West, R Kelly or Lil Wayne disc than the thoughtfully sensitive Okereke you might remember from Silent Alarm and A Weekend in the City.

It's got to suck being the rest of Bloc Party. Knowing that what you had was special because of your combined elements. And now watching from afar, as your lead singer swans off on his own, barely recognisable from the previous Kele Okereke.

But it must also suck to be Kele the dubstepping electrohead, trapped in Kele Okereke's angsty, “University Challenge” body, desperate to break out and see the world, one dancefloor at a time.

Musically, you could hear the final stages of the changeover on Bloc Party's latest album Intimacy. But it's nothing like this – wait ‘til you hear Kele’s pitch-shifted, even-more-effeminate-than-usual vocals on “On the Lam.” “I never listen to indie anymore, I find it boring," Kele told the NME. Fair enough, but why does he look like a guy that would have beat himself up five years ago?

The songs that jump out on first The Boxer are "Everything You Wanted" and "Unholy Thoughts," the least dancefloor-thumping, most Bloc Party-ish songs on the album. "Unholy Thoughts" has even got some guitar in the mix. And "Everything You Wanted" is full of the sensitive, delicate touch that suits Okereke (better than the disjointed beats and forced bravado of his new persona).

The Boxer's not all bad. While "Rise" and the aforementioned "Everything You Wanted" and "Unholy Thoughts" are actually pretty cool, the overall effect's lukewarm. Unbalanced. And, at times, pretty ridiculous.

Instead of playing to his strengths and doing what he does better than anyone else, Kele's moved into a whole new realm completely, where he doesn't have superpowers - just a need to move his (now muscular) body.

Keeping themselves busy, Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes has joined/formed Young Legionnaire and guitarist Russell Lissack's touring with Ash and restarting his electro-pop duo Pin Me Down (maybe they've all got inner electroheads). And last we heard of drummer Matt Tong, he was keen to try something else.

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Bloc Party's Kele Okereke hits the gym, drops the last name, and dives into the deep dance end.

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