Back in 2005 Kele Okereke helped lay the stylistic foundations of a newly resurgent indie scene, as one part of Bloc Party, with the release of their debut album Silent Alarm, a confident artsy rock record, and leading proponent of that anxious twitchy shuffle of a dance that stickmen boy types began to embrace. However, in 2009 as the proliferation of the label bore an exasperating “indie landfill”, he jumped shipped to a new budding alternative music scene. On Trick, his second solo album simply as Kele, he continues to plough ground he covered on The Boxer, his first solo release, though this time with added admirable concept.
Since the completion of 2010’s The Boxer, whether he was aware of it or not, Kele has been using his regular DJ nights to set him up for his second solo outing. Trick is a record built on an old school mix of House, 90’s R&B and 2-Step that documents the first sighting of a prospective lover (‘First Impression’), moves onto the lusting infatuated stage (‘Stay The Night’) and explores the sombre realisation of a desire dying down (‘Doubt’), all on a late night club backdrop of melodic humming dubstep.
As smooth as the tracks on Trick are, they fall into “easy” territory rather than easy listening and the lyrical content tends to mirror the instrumental quality. Kele’s actual vocals as always are on point, but battle to transcend every cheese based lyric above cliché and into heart felt ode, and as such it lacks an emotional integrity. Which is something you could argue isn’t all that integral to determining a dance albums success, but when you consider that in large parts Trick is not a dance album designed for the dance floor at 2am, but rather a hotel room at 4am. It’s a dance album that at times is built solely on a claustrophobic sexual energy, and so the tense intention of songs such as ‘Coasting’ and ‘First Impressions’ are rendered almost futile when they are actually devoid of any sensuality. The record in fact works best during its anxious lonely moments like the emotionally yearning number ‘Closer’ with its sparse guitars, and again on falsetto showcasing paranoia lancing ‘Year Zero’.
Trick is an unfortunate yet interesting misstep for an undoubtedly talented individual, loaded with enough potential that it never becomes a turgid listen, but it lacks any real payoff to make it worthwhile. And in that sense mirrors Kele’s increasingly stunted career thus far.