Having named his debut album ‘The Boxer’ and his latest E.P ‘The Hunter’, perhaps Kele Okereke should call his next release ‘The Frontman… (Who Went Solo and Released an Amazing E.P That No-One Gave Two Wanks About)’. Granted, it’s not the catchiest of titles, but it would certainly be appropriate. After all, The Hunter was released on November 7th with all the fanfare of a nun breaking wind in a bath- greeted by a deafening wall of silence that included not only radio playlists (sad yet expected), but more bizarrely the online blogosphere as well. From small independent blogs to major websites like The Guardian or NME, the amount of people who could actually be arsed to review the album could probably be counted on one hand, and even those seemed lackadaisical at best.
It would all make so much sense if the E.P was shit- if the songs were lifeless, run of the mill indie pop fodder with a dire lack of lyrical imagination or musical verve. But they’re not. They’re songs like ‘Goodbye Horses’- a striking cover of the Q Lazzarus song which rises and falls on a tide of driving dance beats and epic, synth soaring choruses; complete with galloping electronics and Okereke’s trademark impassioned wail gluing everything together.
Consider too the gorgeously atmospheric pop-soul gloom of ‘Devotion’- combining the stark sonic landscapes of Depeche Mode with the warm, bittersweet tones of Vangelis. As usual Okereke’s voice is the star of the show- transforming from quietly intimate to soaring falsetto in the space of a few seconds. There’s always been a fluidity to Kele’s vocals which is almost mesmerising; ever changing, never still- it’s a voice which evolves and changes throughout each song and keeps you on your toes.
The same can be said for the music itself. The Hunter could be described as primarily a dance record, but there are a whole range of musical styles and influences here- from the dubstep breakdown in lead single ‘What Did I Do’, to the unexpected rave horn chorus of ‘You Belong To Someone Else’ and the ghostly piano ballad that is ‘Cable’s Goodbye’. Like his last album The Boxer, Kele wrote all of the songs on The Hunter himself and has again roped in producer XXX Change to oversee proceedings, along with the capable hands of Fred Falke, RAC and Sub Focus. The result is an eclectic mix of styles and genres which feels both exciting and fresh.
So why the chronic lack of interest? Some have suggested the silence comes from confusion- both about Kele and the E.P itself. Not long before the E.P was released, a bizarre story emerged relating to Kele’s position as Bloc Party’s frontman- suggesting that the band had started recording without him and that he’d effectively been fired. It’s also been suggested that the E.P itself is confusing- there are so many different styles that Kele himself isn’t sure which musical direction he wants to take and the public aren’t sure where to place him. Both reasons seem like the kind of baseless wank that you’d overhear two pensioners gossiping about outside W H Smiths, but they do hint at something that’s going on- be it confusion, ignorance or just total apathy which, after hearing how good the E.P actually is, is bizarre in itself.
Still, at least he has that lovely hair of his, right?