All bands reach that stage in their career where their members either want some time out away from music or they want to travel along the treacherous path to a successful solo project. After changing his initial idea to originally take some time away from the recording studio, Kele Okereke is back with his first offering as a solo artist, and it was a blinding decision. The Boxer has some similarities to an original Bloc Party album, so hardened fans won’t be disheartened yet, it is also exceptionally clear from the joyous vivacity of the album’s sound that Kele rather enjoyed being at the helm of his own musical direction and output instead of the wear and tear of constant compromise. With a heavier focus on electronic and dance music, it leaves the album in a perfect state of dance and indie equilibrium, with an added liberal use of heavy synths.
With the first half of the album giving a strong vibe of a will towards experimentation, opening track ‘Walk Tall’, introducing us to an impression of a new sound and a much happier Kele, “Rule number two be as bright as you can be, i’m getting taller”, it does seem to strongly emphasise his enjoyment of musical control. The rest of the album can only back up this claim, as can be shown with tracks such as ‘On The Lam’, which uses such vocal editing mischief to completely hide Kele’s bold and recognisable voice entirely. The latter half of The Boxer harks backs to a more well trodden stomping ground with guitar laden tracks and Kele’s once more powerful and memorable voice returning, as shown within ‘Unholy Thoughts’, guitar infused from the off, yet next track ‘Rise’ indicates a fusion of this familiarity mixed with his full blown experimentation during its build-up and climax, consisting of pure electronic confusion. My best advice on how to approach this exceptional album would be to listen and then to listen again, it isn’t an easy one to get into but once you are there it is completely worth it.
The Boxer is released through Witchita Records on June 21st. You can view the video for debut solo single ‘Tenderoni’ below.