Release Date: Oct 6, 2017
Record label: BMG / BMG Rights Management
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Contemporary Singer/Songwriter
On his third solo effort, Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke made a sharp turn away from the electro-rock for which he's known and attempted something fresh. His first album released under his full name, Fatherland is also the singer/songwriter's most vulnerable and biographical statement to date. Unlike anything he'd done in the past, Fatherland is at turns organic, folksy, and comforting, almost opposite the visceral throb of his prior solo work and output with Bloc Party, like when Goldfrapp went from Supernature to The Seventh Tree.
Kele Okereke dropped his last name for the 2010 solo alt-dance solo record, The Boxer. Making a beeline away from the Bloc Party association, the album was middling in reception and scope. Now, with a healthy Bloc Party comeback in tow, Okereke re-equipped his last name for a solo album that feels closer to home and, ironically more so than the last, doesn't pull any punches emotionally.
So much for an awkward phase. When we met Kele Okereke in 2005, on Bloc Party’s debut album, Silent Alarm, he seemed to have skipped that itchy, pupal phase of most indie-rock frontmen, those years spent in someone else’s idea of cool: the hair too effortfully shaggy, the swoon slightly too melodramatic, 30% too much leather on the body. Just 23 and a university student in London, he was arch and stylish yet never detached; he could seem downright frantic, really, in how much he wanted the world to spin in tow with his own idealism.
P arenthood changes people in all kinds of ways. For Kele Okereke, the frontman of Bloc Party, the birth of his daughter, Savannah, last year has led him to abandon the lascivious disco of 2014.
Kele Okereke is a man of many sides. In the mid-00s he was the morose, Morrissey-esque captain of Bloc Party’s indie disco ship, adding a little miserabilia to every shoulder-jerking chorus. Then, he and his pals found the sampler pad, becoming more and more experimental away from the trad-rock template with every turn. Later, when he returned as a solo artist, it was with a new aesthetic (gym bunny in a wifebeater) and a hedonistic love for a fist-pumping dance tune..
Enormous sound shifts are always difficult to navigate in the fickle world of the music industry. Striking that balance between self-expression and not losing that connection with your fans is a fine art, and one which can be the undoing of many artists. On hearing that electronic heavyweight Kele Okereke was taking a different direction with his third solo record, Fatherland, I was intrigued to find out where exactly he was planning to go.
On the cover Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke’s first solo release, The Boxer, he’s sitting down, looking at the ground between his legs, the black and white coloring masking his face almost entirely. Four years later, we see much more of Okereke’s face on 2014’s Trick, though his full body is still obscured in the shadow of the stark red background, a striking illustration of the record’s darker and more sinister tones. But on Fatherland, the British indie rock hero trades in his synthesizers and DJ equipment for an acoustic guitar, finally feeling happy in his own skin, now comfortable releasing an album under his full name Kele Okereke.
Kele Okereke dropped his last name for the 2010 solo alt-dance solo record, ‘The Boxer’. Making a beeline away from the Bloc Party association, the album was middling in its reception and scope. Now, with a healthy Bloc Party comeback in tow, Kele has re-equipped his last name for a solo album that feels closer to home and, ironically more so than the last, doesn’t pull any punches emotionally. Instrumentally, the generous helpings of tenor sax, soft electric piano and clarinets give ‘Fatherland’ a depth that warrants further listens once Kele’s rounded melodies and acoustic guitar structures have been dissected. Between the romance (‘Do U Right’) and the ruin (‘You Keep On Whispering His Name’), sits ‘Capers’.