13 Songs, 44 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bloc Party’s frontman swaps indie for folk on a no-frills solo LP.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Bloc Party’s frontman swaps indie for folk on a no-frills solo LP.

TITLE TIME

About Kele Okereke

Best known as the singer/songwriter/guitarist for Bloc Party, Kele Okereke was born in Liverpool, England to Nigerian parents. His family moved to London and Okereke met future Bloc Party guitarist Russell Lissack while still in high school. During college, he formed the band the Angel Range with Lissack, adding bassist Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong to the fold soon after. In 2003, they settled on the name Bloc Party and found success with a string of post-punk-inspired releases, starting with the "Banquet" and "She's Hearing Voices" singles and albums including 2005's Silent Alarm, 2007's A Weekend in the City, and 2008's Intimacy. Late in 2009, Bloc Party went on hiatus and Okereke began working on songs on his own, moving to Berlin and collaborating with producers Hudson Mohawke and XXXchange in New York on a solo album. In 2010, the single "Tenderoni" arrived, revealing that Okereke's solo work was more dance-oriented than his music with Bloc Party. That year, he also confirmed rumors that he is gay and was named Sexiest Out Gay Male Artist by the music website LP33.

Okereke's full-length debut, The Boxer, arrived in summer 2010 via London-based indie label, Wichita Recordings. The album -- produced by XXXChange (Spank Rock, the Kills) -- was derived of a lot of bold electronica, occasionally akin to that of Bloc Party, although it boasted a much more individual and laid-bare feel to it, with Okereke explaining the title as an indication of boxers tending to be people who achieve results or success based entirely on their own terms and the techniques in doing so. The following year, the young songwriter put out a follow-up EP entitled The Hunter, once again produced by XXXChange and similar in sonic style to its predecessor. He rejoined the original Bloc Party lineup after their four-year hiatus to write and record their fourth effort, aptly titled Four. The album was largely reminiscent of the sound style of their debut and climbed to the Top Five of the U.K. Albums Chart in the fall of 2012. Okereke and the band went on to promote the new material on a U.K./European tour in late 2012 and a North American tour in early 2013. After the tour, he kept busy and went on to feature on the English DJ Sub Focus track, "Turn It Around," before releasing his second EP, Heartbreaker, a more house and dub-influenced release, in 2013. This prolific output of material continued, with Kele putting out two more house/electro releases; the 2014 Candy Flip EP and his second solo full-length, Trick in 2014. While the latter was still largely focused on the strictly electronic sound that he had become interested in, it also maintained the structure and lyrical aspects of early Bloc Party releases, wrapped up in a differently accessible dance package. He returned with Bloc Party in 2016 for their fifth album, Hymns, a much more subdued release than previous efforts, that incorporated a hybrid of gospel and R&B with ethereal electronica. Not long afterward, the young talent got to work on his third solo album. Fatherland arrived in the fall of 2017, surprising many with its sudden complete departure of the sleek electronic style of many of his previous efforts, opting instead for an altogether more organic and acoustic sound palette. ~ Rob Wacey & Heather Phares

HOMETOWN
Liverpool, England
BORN
October 13, 1981

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