Kele – The Flames Pt. 2

A daring and self-contained pop record...

Kele Okereke is back, and this time it’s physical. 2021’s lockdown missive ‘The Waves Pt. 1’ deals with introspection and loneliness, the grief that comes with plans being ripped to shreds by the pandemic. With the world opening up, follow-up project ‘The Flames Pt. 2’ deals with passion renewed. A song cycle about trysts, lust, and re-focussing on yourself, it’s a pleasing, flirtatious left-field pop record with strictly DIY roots.

Placing the guitar front and centre of his creative methods, ‘The Flames Pt. 2’ has the outright physicality of a live performance. Songs of daring and romantic endeavour, the lyrics continually hinge (no pun intended) on elements of risk – ‘Never Have I Ever’ for example, or ‘Reckless’. There’s a dash and elan to the songwriting, too, ricocheting from idea to idea within a loosely electronic pop format.

‘Someone To Make Me Laugh’ tackles the often-awkward experience of putting yourself out there on the app-based dating marketplace, the synthetic ambience offset by darts of guitar noise. It’s an often hollow experience, one that Kele returns to on ‘I’m In Love Within An Outline’.

Indeed, this focus is also a drawback. The palette is strictly defined, but somewhat limited; in spite of its valuable DIY techniques, ‘The Flames Pt. 2’ could sometimes benefit from more fleshed out arrangements. That said, Kele still knows how to pluck at your heartstrings – ‘The Colour Of Dying Flame’ is a fine closer, the pangs of nostalgia, regret, and melancholy interwoven around a dulcet vocal.

A record that grapples with the often-uneasy insecurities that have come with the New Normal, ‘The Flames Pt. 2’ acts as a necessary corrective to his earlier introspection. As soundtracks for awkward dates on a Tuesday night, go, we definitely recommend you swipe, and get the conversation flowing.


Words: Robin Murray

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