Kele Okereke

Fatherland

BMG

Oct 04, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Kele Okereke dropped his last name for the 2010 solo alt-dance solo record, The Boxer. Making a beeline away from the Bloc Party association, the album was middling in reception and scope. Now, with a healthy Bloc Party comeback in tow, Okereke re-equipped his last name for a solo album that feels closer to home and, ironically more so than the last, doesn't pull any punches emotionally.

Instrumentally, the generous helpings of tenor sax, Fender rhodes, and clarinets that crop up across the album give Fatherland a depth that warrants further listens once Okereke's rounded melodies and acoustic guitar structures have been dissected.

Between the romance ("Do U Right") and the ruin ("You Keep On Whispering His Name"), sits "Capers." a jolly-good jaunt that's painfully British in its clean piano stabs and polite cheekiness as Okereke smirks "I know I'm punching way out of my league/but we could get into some real fun." The track is refreshingly earnest in its wonder. That's not to say that Fatherland is anything but sincere, it helps to read every track with the fact that Okereke is a father now.

The Olly Alexander collaborative track "Grounds For Resentment" is one, a reminder that Alexander's incredible voice feels wasted on Years & Years' dishwater beats and two, significant in its use of pronouns. Okereke and Alexander, as two openly gay men, strove to draw attention to the pronouns they use in a track about sexual desire. It's a creative and personal choice that adds timely fortification to an already deft pop-rock track.

Album highlight "Savannah" centers on a meditative finger-picking riff borrowed from the school of Nick Drake. The percussion is a mix of hollow foot-stomps and shuffling tamborine maneuvers. The crux and emotional core of Fatherland is found in one profound, simple line that shines above the rest in this love letter to his daughter. Okereke sings with worldly sincerity: "If there's one lesson, this life has taught/open your heart, be kind." It's beautiful in its simplicity and that can be said of a lot of Fatherland. (www.iamkele.com)

Author rating: 7/10

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