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Kele Okereke has deemed it right to take some time off from
Bloc Party to make a solo album and 'The Boxer' is the result.
The eleven tracks in the collection are so good that I find
myself wondering if his sabbatical might turn into something
a tad longer lasting. The spotlight beckons methinks!

'The Boxer' has a sound which is both distinctive and coherent
but shot through with Mr Okereke's mercurial magpie proclivities.
Discombobulating electro-art-pop with the power to both dither
and dance. The music is stronger on rhythmic structure than melodic
content ( he hasn't yet figured out how to pin down a memorable tune
but then again perhaps he doesn't want to!)

His voice, truth-be-told, is an instrument with considerable limitations
but even though a little shaky and tonally insecure he, none-the-less,
manages to imbue his performances with an elusively vulnerable quality.

Things kick off in kookie style with the 'Full Metal Jacket' parade ground
call/response vocal of 'Walk Tall'. Underpinned by a big booming and
zooming synth line it is as much a call to battle as it is a declaration
of independence.

It is possible to jump up-and-down and from side-to-side to the jauntily
wobbly beats of 'On The Lam'. The curious voice treatments make the
track sound as though it might be being performed by a group of
small woodland animals (I'm thinking chipmunks and weasels) in a
sunny summer clearing.

Single 'Tenderoni' is a bit of an old-fashioned rave and nothing wrong with that!

'Everything You Wanted' made an immediately positive impression.
The spirit of a particular moment in the eighties has been captured and
preserved in the aspic of its splendid percussion and vocal arrangement.

The three minute long little gem 'Unholy Thoughts' (the spirit of Joy Division
seems not much more than a hair's breadth away!) makes a strong mark by
virtue of its stripped-down simplicity. Economy and energy rolled into one.

'All The Things I Could Never Say' takes a while to find its way. The nervously
stuttering synth ostinato holds the shape of the composition as Mr Okereke's
plaintive lament builds slowly and convincingly above it. The song builds to
a restrained anthemic conclusion of curiously affecting intensity.

Final track 'Meet In The Middle' begins with a fragile acapella vocal line
which gradually evolves into a far more substantial thematic idea full of
chiming chords, echoing drums and a tune which had me thinking about
Simple Minds for more than a moment or two (it's been many, many more
moments since I had cause to think about them at all!) and which brings
the project to a moderately rousing conclusion.

Mr Okereke may not be a contender for heavyweight musical champion of
the universe but 'The Boxer' is a solo debut of which he can be justly proud.

Recommended.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 4 July 2010
That's how Kele answered when he was asked if he'd be re-forming Bloc Party again soon. "I find what I am doing now far more exciting and I've already begun working on my next record."

The truth is, Kele isn't concerned with whether or not you want his solo record to sound like "Silent Alarm". This DEFINITELY IS NOT Silent Alarm, nor was he trying for that... AT ALL. He wanted to go for an electronic sound that would thrill club-goers and concert-goers alike. If you were open-minded enough to embrace "Flux" and "Your Visits are Getting Shorter" and "One More Chance", you may love this album. I read one review where the reviewer said "I'm disappointed because Kele has strayed too far from where he was most comfortable." Ummm, well, NO, he strayed from where YOU were most comfortable!

Now onto the album, if you're not expecting Silent Alarm, you may like this a lot! Some songs seem like Bloc Party tracks that could have fit in nicely on "A Weekend In the City" or "Intimacy", like the future single "Everything You Wanted", or the albums two best tracks "Unholy Thoughts" and "Yesterday's Gone".

You still get Kele's unique vocal delivery, and you still get hyper-personal lyrical content from a man who has to have to worst-ever luck with relationships. In one of my favorite tracks, "All The Things I Could Never Say", Kele sings "You tore the button off my favourite shirt/yet another thing I lost to you/where did you stay last night?/You didn't come home." This man's gone through more heartbreak than anyone, hasn't he? It's a shame "Meet In The Middle" is download only because it may be the album's finest track. It has excellent lyrics and the awesome build-up similar to that of "Song for Clay". It's not so similar to Song For Clay, just has a slow, dramatic intro and builds after in the same way Song for Clay does.

The song "Walk Tall" has a bit of a military stomp and chant reminiscent of a scene in the U.S. film "Stripes", and I think by now everyone's heard "Tenderoni" and either loves it or hates it. Apart from that, the record stands up well as a well-crafted solo effort. It would have gotten five stars for me if it weren't for the dreadful second track "On the Lam". I'm imagining that this song may be good live, but on record, it reminds me of "Barbie Girl" from the 90s band Aqua.

If you're open-minded, like Kele's voice, and can shake your hips with the best of them, this record is for you. If you're hoping for Silent Alarm, you'll be let down.
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on 3 July 2010
i am an old codger in age but have loved good music from the sixties onwards.theres been lots of artists and bands that i have loved over this period .and not all with great longevity.but my ears did prick up when i heard the first bloc party album.i thought they were fresh origanal and didnt sound obviously like anyone else ,i still maintain this view and i think this solo effort is sperb havent stopped playing it,and it gets better every play.not one duff track.it has some similaritys to a bloc party album obviously,but highly origanl as well,a really great first solo effort.roll on the next bloc party album or another solo effort.great stuff
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Judged on its own merits this is a passionate and atmospheric selection of electronic-based songs; Kele has not attempted to somehow show that he 'is' Bloc Party, but there are obvious similarities in style as he is clearly a key part of the band! Final track 'Yesterday's Gone' would probably slot subtly into any BP album, but the rest are refreshingly original and almost entirely excellent - lead single 'Tenderoni' is in my opinion the weakest track, but is by no means 'no good', just not quite as exciting as the remainder of the album.
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on 28 April 2012
Well produced album, all the songs are fantastic. This got the "Sunday Times" best CD of the week when it was released and its not hard to see why...why isnt this guy more popular??
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on 19 December 2010
As a big fan of Bloc Party's electronic sound and having heard Anything You Wanted, I thought I would love this record, and was a little disappointed. It's a bit less accessible than any of Bloc Party's music.

Okay, so trying not to compare it to Bloc Party, a lot of it just sounds a bit messy to me, and I don't really like the female vocalist's voice. I'll listen to it again, but apart from the singles the only track that I really like is the first one.
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on 9 July 2014
Great record for my collection.
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on 5 November 2014
Love Kele, great album
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on 18 June 2010
well what can i say, bloc party are such a great uplifiting band with many different sounds to suit a lot of peoples tastes and kele alone has produced an outstanding new single "tenderoni", with great use of the exceeder synthesizer produced by WARP's Hudson Mowhake ( used in wearing my rolex by wiley and exceeder by dj mason) and his unique vocal skills. im really looking forward to this album and if the tracks are anything as powerful and full of energy as "tenderoni", then bloc party fans and new fans will be very pleased.
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on 12 July 2010
Credit to Kele for changing direction for his first solo album. However, there is nothing new here to whet the appetite.

First single 'Tenderoni' caught the eye among the usual radio playlist nonentities despite it sounding like THAT SONG... There are other occasional moments of interest, the vocal treatment on 'On the lam' provides a double take moment but you have to ask if this is what Kele wants.

The album doesn't showcase his vocals particularly, nor any fresh lyrical output. Rather it is the production which dominates which might sound fine now, but will easily date.

Overall you are left with the impression that Kele has proved a point that he can release an album like this but you have to hope that he will stamp more of his own identity onto any future releases,
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