Kele – The Boxer

Release Date 21/06/2010 (Polydor)

By Chris Gilliver

Kele Okereke says he’s “sick of indie music”. Well aren’t we all? I’ve been moaning about it since I started writing about music in 2008. It’s got to the point where I bore myself moaning about how boring it is. But let’s face facts, Bloc Party were easily one of the best British guitar bands to grow out of the fertile soil left by The Strokes and The Libertines. And Silent Alarm will be considered one of the scene’s finest moments – an album of exhilarating creativity in a time where bands lacked originality like the desert lacks water, and Bruce Forsyth lacks funny jokes.  Still, with Intimacy it did seem that the band had hit a brick wall, unable to conciliate the tension between their dance and indie alter egos.

With The Boxer, Kele peels off the dance manifestation and comes out fighting – fighting like a dancing boxer. And without the chaotic clatter of those Bloc Party drums, and the scratchy (though excellent) guitar playing he has streamlined his sound, restoring a clarity of thought and purpose that has not been seen since Flux. Never has Kele sounded so truthful when he sings, “I’m turning into the man I used to be” on the Talking Heads-esque The Other Side.

The Boxer is also an album where he exorcises those demons raised by the painful breakdown of a past relationship. Despite this he never whines like the latter day Bloc Party front man – it was this humourless persona that led to a growing sense that BP were up shit creak. “I could have given you everything you wanted, everything you needed” Kele sings on the excellent Everything You Wanted. This is a touchingly enunciated line on an excellent track.

Elsewhere, as on single Tenderoni , his music is designed to make you dance. It’s strange that Kele’s move to electronica is supposedly alternative, even though it’s exactly the same music that filled the charts and that we wanted to rebel against when I was growing up in the 90s. These dance tracks are hooky and catchy, pounding with life and kicking out in a world where Kele can now swing freely.

If you thought The Boxer would annoy think again, and in the light of this release it would be a mistake for Kele to go back to Bloc Party anytime soon. When he’s in this sort of form, making this sort of music, who would want to see that miserable front man again anyway? Now he’s happier, and so are we.

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