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Album Review
The Boxer

The Boxer
by Kele

Rating

Review Date
26th July 2010
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

Assuming that someone leaving their band to go solo indicates a feeling of restriction; either by their lack of creative freedom or the confines of the genre their band has based itself in; then what’s interesting about The Boxer by Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke is that it doesn’t sound like either of those things were a problem for him.

Not that The Boxer sounds like a Bloc Party album exactly. It has more to do with that band’s swift shift from the erratic guitar driven indie of old, to the cleaner synthesised indie sound that subsumed British musical culture towards the end of the decade. At its core, that’s what the majority of The Boxer is; a largely electronic album built from the same set of influences that informed Bloc Party’s Intimacy, with just a few anachronistic House bangers thrown in for good measure.

But even then, we’re not seeing something unprecedented. ‘One More Chance’ was an Ibiza club inducing anthem that could easily have made its way onto The Boxer without sounding out of place. But on this album, a pensive Kele makes for much more interesting and enigmatic listening than a Kele with complete abandon.

Thankfully though, once ‘Walk Tall’, ‘Tendoroni’ and the frankly embarrassing ‘On The Lam’ are out of the way, The Boxer takes the former direction. It automatically sounds like more care and thought was put into songs like ‘Other Side’ and ‘Everything You Wanted’, which along with ‘Unholy Thoughs’ sounds a lot like Bloc Party. But the biggest surprise on the album is ‘Rise’, which is perhaps what The Boxer is missing more of to be a completely valid separation of his work with his band. Calmly building around a static drum beat and Kele’s melodious voice, ‘Rise’ eventually bursts to life in the kind of neon haze that glow sticks and strobe lights were created for.

Ultimately though, The Boxer sounds like Kele has just found some settings on his keyboard that interest him more than the strings on his guitar. But it lacks cohesion, as the songs vary between reworked Bloc Party tracks, ideas which don’t coalesce and occasionally surprising hints at potential. The final pairing of ‘All The Things I Could Never Say’ and ‘Yesterday’s Gone’ certainly fit within that spectrum and finish the album much stronger than it started, but don’t make the album feel any more essential. The Boxer isn’t exactly a disappointment, but it most certainly isn’t a necessity either.






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