Back with the follow-up to 2010 solo debut, ‘The Boxer’, Kele Okereke’s second album seems to have him ignoring both current trends and the pull of pop avenues. Instead, ‘Trick’ is something of a nostalgia trip; and old-school soul, retro club music and electronic R&B is a much more comfortable setting for him.
For the first time since Bloc Party it finally feels like Kele knows exactly what he’s doing. ‘Trick’ is mesmerisingly peaceful and confidently minimal with a stripped back sound that is both simple and elegantly cool; harking back to the late 90s but with just enough of a modern twist to remain fresh and interesting. Sure, it’s a sound that at times can be guilty of slipping into little more than a background beat; the kind of thing you’d half listen to at two in the morning on Kiss100 cruising down a deserted motorway. This is not necessarily bad, just evidence of a sound that reflects the era it embodies.
There are also times however when ‘Trick’ commands every ounce of attention available. It is on tracks such as ‘Doubt’, ‘Year Zero’ and ‘My Hotel Room’ in which Kele really lets his distinctive, bordering on iconic vocals go which make this album noteworthy in a way ‘The Boxer’ never quite managed. It’s these, coupled with the incredibly personal and interesting song-writing that make Kele so special. On the surface ‘Trick’ appears to largely explore the difficulties of the early stages of relationships and hook-ups; a simple theme that Kele outlines with a passion and tenderness that takes something fairly trivial and makes it beautifully complex.
Without those vocals ‘Trick’ would be unremarkable but with them it’s powerfully raw, bringing emotive song-writing to life in a way only Kele can. Unfortunately closer ‘Stay The Night’ leaves a bitter taste. On the surface a relatively harmless mediocre love song but lyrics like “Just roll another J, and be cool” are so jarringly out of place within an album that finally stops trying so hard to be cool and leaves a slightly disappointing end to an excellent return for Kele.