With Bloc Party, Kele Okereke centred one of the most experimental indie bands in the UK, never afraid to change their sound on each of their three albums, most recently presenting a dance floor friendly feel, backed by non album tracks ‘Flux’ and ‘One More Chance’. Now, lacking his bandmates and his surname, Kele pursues this direction on his debut solo album.
Lead single ‘Tenderoni’ set a high pace, and high expectations with it. Unfortunately the rest of the album isn’t quite as upbeat, recalling the more melancholy side of Bloc Party’s work, despite a more electronic backing. Lyrically, Kele’s unique voice focuses on emotional context, and second single ‘Everything You Wanted’ is a prime example this, his vocals taking the forefront with relentless passion. With less apparent electronic elements here than on other tracks this could easily be Bloc Party work, not that that’s a bad thing. Elsewhere however, average tracks with interesting elements surface, though many lack the hooks or beats required to really take them off the ground.
‘Walk Tall’ and ‘On The Lam’ kick off the album, immediately confronting a dance atmosphere with dub step inspired beats, the latter adjusting the pitch in Kele’s voice to give new character that works quite well. Though some tracks show promise of a unique conglomerate of styles, too many pass without grabbing the listener’s attention, trading catchy hooks for sentimental lyrics that are off-putting. On ‘New Rules’, this proves to result in a song that passes by quickly and is easily forgettable. ‘Unholy Thoughts’ could again be a Bloc Party song; with a less electronic and more traditional indie feel, it makes some of its counterparts seem tame.
On what might have been a strong dance-indie crossover, Kele Okereke has proved he can produce a dance hit and can eloquently produce an interesting solo album. Despite this, the feeling remains throughout that the tracks aren’t quite firing on all cylinders, instead lacking the hooks that could have made this a more satisfying album.