The Bloc Party lead singer takes a respite from his band's kinetic dance rock on The Boxer
, removing most of the "rock" element while constructing a half digital banger, half introspective electronia record worthy of his knob twisting contemporaries. Kele's first solo record is a brash, sprightly collection of tracks full of momentum and energy, even when fading from the club to the more subdued back room.
While the Bloc Party discography has been slowing drifting towards a more bass friendly operation (and is still rooted in rock), Kele confirms his interest in house and electronics with his solo debut. But what should sound like a bit of child's play in the studio (Kele spent a lot of time exploring sonic possibilities) winds up sounding like a smarter dance record; full of the emotive and approachable bits of Kele's lyrics and melodic qualities, without all the learner's curve fluff.
Those attempting to dive into Kele's intentions may find a maze of traps set (at least at first)... the heavy handed beats and repetitive riffs of "Walk Tall" and "Tenderoni", like most of the genre, do not lend themselves to Freudian analysis. Give it some breathing room, The Boxer
is a record that unfolds slowly over the timecode. Later the songs calm down and "Everything You Wanted" has some easier to process emotions, powering the hook instead of the speakers. "Unholy Thoughts" could have been a Bloc Party song. Then the last few songs really take a turn, especially "Yesterday's Gone", fading into a more emotionally rousing use of Kele's talents, and putting the electronic flair on as more of an after thought than a driving force.
By the end it becomes apparent The Boxer
is Kele simply exploring the limits of the tools in the studio, while using his own raw ideas as fuel. But whatever the means, the end seems to justify at least a few close listens, if not for only those knock-out moments. Kele may be new in the solo ring, but he can still throw a punch or two on his own. -joe puglisi
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Kele on Myspace