From his mid-00’s breakthrough into the musical spotlight with cutting edge indie outfit Bloc Party, Kele Okereke has proven and established himself as one of a generation’s most accomplished musicians and songwriters. During the early Bloc Party years, his songs became the soundtrack for young romance and coming of age experiences the world over. Five albums with Bloc Party, and couple of solo records later, Okereke is now entering arguably the most mature phase of his musical career with recently released effort, Fatherland.
His last two full-length releases saw Okereke push his already electronic-influenced indie sound in a much more dance-orientated direction. Considering this, on first listen, Fatherland appears to be a departure from all things before it, and reveals a relatively stripped back, folk sound that we would not necessarily have seen coming from Okereke. Streets Been Talkin’ demonstrates this straight away with a very mellow, brass and string tune that he narrates with typically expert consideration. As we go through the album, we can see how direct inspiration has been taken from some of his perhaps lesser-known idols in Joni Mitchell, and Nick Drake; Grounds for Resentment fuses more traditional piano-based songwriting with a very soulful focus lyrically, which has become something we’ve rarely seen from him with such clarity over the years.
Whereas some would perhaps regard his two previous solo efforts that engineered a unique take on pop and dance music as his most ground breaking releases, what Fatherland presents to us is an album that displays what a truly great and adaptable artist Kele is. With an ability and confidence to switch up musical direction with such effortlessness, we see the origins of what made him so great with Bloc Party, a new found peace with himself as he enters fatherhood, and a maturity that as a big fan of his, I hope will continue to inspire him to write great music in the future.