Kele Trick * CD

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Kele Trick * CD. On Trick, Kele remains one of the artists best equipped to bridge the still sizable gap between rock and dance. With and without Bloc Party, his embrace of electronic music was a long time coming; its influence could be felt as early as that band's 2008 album Intimacy, while Kele's DJ sets and solo debut The Boxer confirmed it was more than just a passing fancy. Bloc Party returned to their guitar-heavy beginnings with 2012's Four, so it's not a surprise that Kele's second album is even more strictly dance-oriented than The Boxer's experiments. Trick's smooth blend of house, R&B, and pop influences is in keeping with the more subdued direction of some 2010s dance, with highlights such as the lovely duets "Closer" and "First Impressions" nodding to the xx and Burial in equal measure. These songs reaffirm that Kele is a strong songwriter and, just as importantly, a distinctive and empathetic singer regardless of what style he chooses. Trick's subtlety allows him to play more with different phrasing, emotions, and personae; he's seductive on the dreamy "Coasting" and sharply questioning on "Doubt," the closest Kele gets to Bloc Party's wheelhouse on the album. Particularly toward Trick's end, its subtlety can border on too monochromatic. For every song like the confessional yet kinetic "My Hotel Room," there's one like "Like We Used To," where Kele's introspection tips from subdued to dour. He fares better on "Silver and Gold" and "Humour Me," where more energy and sensuality keep things afloat, proving once again that soul-searching and dancing don't have to be at cross purposes. ~ Heather Phares


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