Kele Okereke of Bloc Party fame has used the band’s hiatus to craft his solo debut. Brimming with electronica beats and flourishes, it shows him attempting to find a middle ground between the indie music he writes and the electronica he loves. Despite the gurgling beats and synth accents, the album manages to come across as stoic and mature.
From the beginning, The Boxer sets out to be a good summer album while still maintaining the dignity Kele is known for. Every song shows restraint and focus, never allowing a song to go on for too long or giving into the desire to overdo a track. On standouts like, “The New Rules,” Kele’s aching, soft voice cascades over an engaging afro beat which allows him to come across as an electronica version of Jeff Buckley.
The main weak point is that the tracks blend together at times, making parts of a genuinely good debut forgettable. Songs such as “Unholy Thoughts” and its previous cut “The New Rules,” are similar in arrangement and make them indistinguishable to the listener. Sequencing aside, Kele Okereke has made a strong album on his down time from Bloc Party. Let’s hope he’s got another one in him.