Anyone who has followed Bloc Party’s progression from their debut album, Silent Alarm, through their 2008 release, Intimacy, knows that the band’s style has undergone somewhat of an overhaul. Few would describe Silent Alarm as a typical rock album, but fewer would fail to acknowledge that the band’s adoption of an electric, synth-heavy sound, made Intimacy and even more unorthodox work. However, Bloc Party did not maintain this updated sound throughout their latest album, instead choosing to give just a sample of this new direction while still incorporating songs that could easily fit in on either of their two previous releases. Such inconsistency in the album undoubtedly contributed to the mediocre reviews it received.
With his first effort as a solo artist, frontman for Bloc Party, Kele Okereke (a.k.a. Kele), learned from his band’s mistakes, and created the album that Intimacy wished it could be. Its title, The Boxer, is apt as it holds nothing back delivering punch after sonic punch (I apologize if that line was too cheesy . . . I couldn’t resist). Unlike Intimacy, Kele’s solo album is cohesive, with an electric sound throughout that manages to simultaneously feel melodic and fit for the dance club. This style of record comes as no surprise given the evolution of Bloc Party over recent years, and Kele’s decision to bring in electronic/hip-hop producer XXXChange (of Spank Rock fame) to work on the project.
While fans of Bloc Party who are hoping for the band to release another Silent Alarm-esque album may be dismayed by The Boxer, others will find solace in Kele’s total embrace of the dynamic electronic-rock he has been experimenting with for years. With The Boxer Kele has dived into the pool and left Bloc Party teetering on the springboard. We’ll have to wait to see if the band will follow their leader.