Kele Okereke - Fatherland

by Nathan Fidler Rating:7 Release Date:2017-10-06

Ever since Bloc Party, integral to the angular indie scene of the noughties, burst onto the scene, Kele Okereke has shown both musical intelligence and melodic know-how. Fatherland isn’t his first foray into the solo arena, with two previous albums of electronica and dance music already under his belt.

This new album takes Okereke in a distinctly different direction, with a seeping hint of sadness throughout. Hardly an acoustic album, most of the tracks do feel stripped back in comparison to any of his other work.

Forlorn horns mellow in the background of ‘You Keep On Whispering His Name’, with picked guitars (there is barely a hint of the indie guitar with which Bloc Party made their name). Meanwhile ‘Yemaya’ evokes memories of the more spiritual elements of the Bright Eyes album Cassadaga, with soft, repeating acoustic patterns.

Okereke appears to be a lot more honest about himself here, opening up his world a little more than he previously has. ‘Savannah’ is touching tribute to his new daughter, full of quiet wonderment for her future. These themes of fatherhood and the passage of time are smattered across the rest of the album, ‘Royal Reign’ being the bittersweet, rousing closer to embody this.

There are a couple of well appointed vocal collaborations too, with Olly Alexander (see the chipper ‘Grounds For Resentment’) and Corrine Bailey Rae (see the ghostly ‘Versions Of Us’) both deployed to good effect. What the album does lack, however, is a greater mixture of songs. ‘Portrait’ and ‘The New Year Party’ fall flat, and make it seems like only songs which fit a template tempo and mood.

This is an accomplished effort from Okereke, proving that his musical journey isn’t over just yet - unlike many of his previous contemporaries. He’s at his best when mixing up the continental sounds of ‘Capers’ with the folkish leanings of ‘Streets Been Talking’, leaving a lasting impression. Wearing his emotions on his sleeve and distilling them as he has here looks good on him.

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