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Kele Okereke unveils hypnotic new single, Smalltown Boy, announces fifth solo album

Kele Okereke
(Image credit: Press)

Kele Okereke, frontman for UK indie-rockers Bloc Party, has announced his fifth studio album, The Waves Pt. 1, and released a new track from the record – a cover of Bronski Beat’s Smalltown Boy.

Kele’s reworking of the dance classic replaces the pounding synths of the original with hypnotic, intertwining clean electric guitars – a thread that connects the album's tracklisting.

The Waves Pt. 1 is said to draw from film scores and classical music, as well as a desire to meld pop songs with meditative passages.

Smalltown Boy follows the release of minimalist instrumental The Heart of the Wave, which landed earlier this month.

“After the first lockdown I found myself in an odd position,” Kele says.

“I became a stay at home dad of a 3 year old and a 6 month old. Those initial days were hard but looking back they were also incredibly rewarding.

I would go up to my music room and play the guitar, looping myself, making this wall of sound. It became a type of therapy for me

“In the rare moments of down time I would go up to my music room and play the guitar, looping myself, making this wall of sound. It became a type of therapy for me, something to calm me down as it seemed like the whole world was losing its head.

“I realised in those moments that I missed the act of performing, so I joined Instagram so I could upload performances of my old songs and songs that I love. It was a lifeline for me, to still feel connected to an audience, to still feel like a musician in this time of freefall.

“What also became clear was that I still had the desire to create. Usually when I make records it's an ensemble affair, there are usually lots of other musicians and singers I work with, but as we were in lockdown I did not have that luxury of being able to work with other musicians.

“I knew I had to fill in the space of this record entirely by myself, which was daunting but also very liberating. This album is literally the sound of me.”

The Waves Pt. 1 is out on May 28 via Kele’s own label, KOLA Records / !K7, and available to preorder now.

The album's full tracklisting is below:

  1. Message From The Spirit World
  2. They Didn’t See It Coming
  3. The Way We Live Now
  4. How To Beat The Lie Detector
  5. Dungeness
  6. Ninevah
  7. The One Who Held You Up
  8. The Patriots
  9. Intention
  10. Smalltown Boy
  11. From A Place Of Love
  12. The Heart Of The Wave
  13. Cradle You (Bonus Track)

Kele Okereke

(Image credit: Press)
Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Digital Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World, having spent nine storied years contributing to guitar journalism and a decade-and-a-half performing in bands of variable genre (and quality). He has written and edited for MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, and makes prog-ish instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.