Kele – ‘Trick’

The Bloc Party frontman seals his dance reinvention on a bass-heavy second solo album

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. The dance-pop of Kele’s 2010 solo debut ‘The Boxer’ was closer to La Roux than Gang Of Four, and on their 2012 album ‘Four’, Bloc Party landed clumsily when trying to mix electronics with their wiry guitars of old. Then there was Kele’s ‘Tapes’ mix for dance label !K7 last year, which came on the back of a sideline as a DJ. The 32-year-old has been all about the dancefloor for a long time. 
As such, ‘Trick’’s confident aesthetic is no surprise.  A pulsing kick drum, bouncing bassline and plaintive vocal make ‘Doubt’ a sparkling Chicago house retrofit in the style of Azari & III. ‘Closer’ mines the same groove, folding a nagging loop played on a half-full glass bottle into the mix. The result has the euphoric melancholy that is the hallmark of late ’80s house classics. Meanwhile ‘Coasting’ nods to UK bass music with broken beats skipping over a seriously heavy low end. Kele’s lyrical skill makes ‘Trick’ all the more impressive. He’s always written movingly about relationships and ‘Stay The Night’ is about the empty feeling after a one-night stand. “I don’t want to own you, but my door will always be open,” he sings over groaning bass and popping percussion.
The only misstep is ‘Closer’, its guitar line jars with a chorus built around the kind of derivative hands-in-the-air synth riff people twitch along to in Ibizan super clubs. A hangover from his collaboration with superstar DJ cheeseball Tiesto back in 2009, perhaps. It’s a blip though. Largely, ‘Trick’ measures up as a solid modern dance record and bears no trace of Bloc Party, proving that a lot can change in nine years.

Chris Cottingham