Release Date: Oct 14, 2014
Record label: Lilac
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
When Kele Okereke made a dance album back in 2010 no-one was in the slightest bit surprised. For all the talk of his band, Bloc Party, being 'angular' or 'art rock', their third album, 2008’s Intimacy, was a comfortably electronic affair, and Okereke himself had been talking up his interest in the housier end of music for some time. Less expected was his next move - returning to Bloc Party and making a proper alt-rock record, 2012’s Four, a full throttle punk album verging on hardcore and grunge in places.
Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke threw something of a curveball upon the release of his widely acclaimed debut solo album The Boxer in 2010. Gone were the frenetic, angular guitars synonymous with his band, replaced by house beats, a dollop of R&B and a whole lot of dance; completely unrecognisable from the reluctant front man’s previous work with his London band-mates, that’s for sure. Recorded in New York and London, Trick takes his ideas to a further level of dance.
Trick. The word elicits thoughts of deception, sleight of hand manipulation, sexual hustling, and emotionally hollow one-night stands. Kele Okereke’s sophomore album of the same title, “charts the moment of initial attraction through to the dissolution of the relationship”. From the club to the bedroom, the Bloc Party frontman explores the empty sensuality of sleeping with complete strangers.
Back in 2005, Bloc Party’s debut album ‘Silent Alarm’ set the tone for a wave of spiky art rock bands. If your acquaintance with frontman Kele Okereke began and ended there, you’d be forgiven for wondering how he’s ended up making ‘Trick’, an album of unadulterated dance. Really though, it makes perfect sense. Bloc Party’s next two albums ‘A Weekend In The City’ and ‘Intimacy’ both explored electronic music and beats.
On Trick, Kele remains one of the artists best equipped to bridge the still sizable gap between rock and dance. With and without Bloc Party, his embrace of electronic music was a long time coming; its influence could be felt as early as that band's 2008 album Intimacy, while Kele's DJ sets and solo debut The Boxer confirmed it was more than just a passing fancy. Bloc Party returned to their guitar-heavy beginnings with 2012's Four, so it's not a surprise that Kele's second album is even more strictly dance-oriented than The Boxer's experiments.
More than a few eyebrows were raised last year when Bloc Party lead singer Kele Okereke released a two-track EP of functional dance music, Heartbreaker, on London club-house institution Crosstown Rebels. On the surface level Okereke’s stepping out as a dance producer was curious; it's not every day one of the more visible faces of 2000s UK indie steps behind the boards and starts churning out honest-to-God dance music on an honest-to-God dance label. But when it comes to explaining their existence alone, Heartbreaker and this year’s Crosstown-released Candy Flip EP make more sense when situated in what Okereke’s been up to over the last six years.
While touring Bloc Party’s last album, Four, Kele Okereke was compelled to create a collection of club anthems, the confident, carnal yin to his indie group’s anxious, angst-riddled yang. Much like his debut solo album, 2010’s The Boxer, guitars are virtually non-existent in the mix, with laptops at the forefront, melding dubstep, two-step and house. Trick’s key themes are largely love and loneliness, and its standout moment is My Hotel Room, which finds Kele’s lusty vocals pressed against a minimalist soundtrack, his voice textured with the sleazy zeal of a man nestled between the crisp, clean sheets of a Holiday Inn executive suite.
Back with the follow-up to 2010 solo debut, ‘The Boxer’, Kele Okereke’s second album seems to have him ignoring both current trends and the pull of pop avenues. Instead, ‘Trick’ is something of a nostalgia trip; and old-school soul, retro club music and electronic R&B is a much more comfortable setting for him. For the first time since Bloc Party it finally feels like Kele knows exactly what he’s doing.
Captivated by his New York pals’ hazy tales of one-night stands, booty calls, and half-forgotten “tricks,” Kele Okereke would go on to use the bastardized term for the title of his second solo album. The word is alluring, a tad controversial, and fits the mood of the season, but couldn’t be less fit to actually describe the mood of this introspective 10-track affair. Without context, a “trick” lacks substance, offering some short-term ecstasy but no long-term respect.
The Boxer, 2010's solo debut from Bloc Party's Kele Okereke, had all the hallmarks of a one-off, stop-gap release. With Okereke's full-time band becoming increasingly electronic with their third LP Intimacy, it seemed a time-lapsed outlet for the singer to exercise his creative whims. Several hiatuses and a rather underwhelming fourth Bloc Party album later, it now appears to be the project with the most longevity left in it.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Kele's 2010 solo debut proved that his musical talents were not limited to the angular guitars and indie anthemia of Bloc Party. The iconic frontman saw that the noughties indie boom had breathed its last, and successfully tried his hand at something a little more electronic. The Boxer pleased the Bloc Party fans with Kele's distinctive vocals and emotive lyrics, yet at the same time appealed to electronic purists with its original beat structures and intelligent production.
Over four years have passed since Kele Okereke last released a solo record (2010’s The Boxer). Since then, he’s dropped a handful of EPs, including two out-and-out house short-lengths, collaborated with a host of artists, entered the world of professional DJing proper and released another Bloc Party record (he’s also recently confirmed that the band are “preparing the fifth Bloc Party record”). He’s undoubtedly evolved considerably as an artist.
Bloc Party's 2012 comeback album, "Four," mostly did away with the dance music elements that the London band helped popularize in the mid-2000s. Out with the four-four kicks and club atmospheres; in with the psych-stoner guitar shredding. Frontman Kele Okereke's new solo album, "Trick," must have been where all those danceable ideas went to regroup.