One thing you can say for sure about Kele Okereke is that he will never give you the same album twice. Whether that means you scramble to hear more music or wince before hitting play depends on how much you connect with his style of songwriting. His new solo album goes full acoustic. Every vulnerability is on display. The risks are high on this admirably showy, soulful turn. From the twee folk of ‘Streets Been Talkin’’ to the sleek Will Young-indebted (seriously, Will Young) balladry of ‘Grounds For Resentment’, Okereke isn’t scared to get a bit corny, as listeners of the second Bloc Party album will remember.
It’s an endearing trait, but one sadly bogged down by clunky lyricism and sterilised production, here. The album’s main issue is that the singer’s rigid vocal can’t sell many of these tunes, something made clear when Corinne Bailey Rae shows up for a duet and completely outshines him. There are bright spots, like earthy, string-backed odyssey ‘Yemaya’. Okereke remains a gutsy songwriter, and that’ll keep many scrambling.