Thursday, August 12, 2010
KELE OKEREKE: THE BOXER
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. Secretly 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 Silent Alarm era Kele Okereke. But it must also suck to be Kele the electrohead, trapped in Kele Okereke's angsty, intellectual, indie-rock body, desperate to break out and see the world, one dancefloor at a time.
"Forget where you've been, cut your ties to the past and wave it goodbye."
Listening to The Boxer, the songs that jump out immediately 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 beauty that suits Okereke (better than his new, forced-sounding persona Kele).
It almost feels like the muscular DJ Kele on the album cover beat the shy, introverted Kele Okereke to death, burnt all his scarves and jerseys and bought a whole new range of electro caps and tight fitting T-shirts. Musically, you could hear the final stages of the changeover on Bloc Party's last album Intimacy. But it's nothing like this. "I never listen to indie anymore, I find it boring," Kele told the NME.
Look, The Boxer's not all bad. "Rise," "Everything You Wanted" and "Unholy Thoughts" are actually pretty cool. But the overall effect's lukewarm. Instead of playing to his strengths and doing what he does better than anyone else, Kele's moved to a whole new realm completely, where he doesn't have superpowers - just a need to move his (now muscular) body. If he wasn't famous already, I doubt anyone would care as much.
Keeping themselves busy, Bloc Party bassist Gordon Moakes has joined 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 I heard of drummer Matt Tong, he was keen to try something else.