Label: KOLA Records / !K7
Released: 28th May 2021
A mental cleanser of sorts after the weight of holding a mirror up to a racist society in ‘2042’, Kele’s fifth studio album is an altogether more inwards-facing record. Meditative and reflective, it is very much the product of a time where the former Bloc Party frontman was forced, like all of us, to keep largely his own company. A stay-at-home dad by day, his nights were full of solitary walks through London with only his thoughts and the ever-present city foxes to keep him company. And it is that sense of capturing the inescapable late-night thoughts that run through your head that ebbs and flows through ‘The Waves pt.1’ like the metaphorical tides of the title.
With cinematic instrumentals peppered throughout, as well as tracks that seem to have been fully living and breathing before any words were added, this is a record that creeps in under your skin rather than one that kicks the doors in. Still with that ability to abruptly change a mood on a dime, tense and ominous moments of thoughts unloading rub shoulders with tender confessions and cries for help. There’s something keenly beautiful about it being a purely one-man show, a complete journey through his mind and life.
As the tension of the early parts of the record subside to be replaced by an almost sweetly romantic finale, it’s like dawn coming after the longest dark. With a stunning cover of ‘Smalltown Boy’ sending haunting ripples outwards from its heart, ‘The Waves pt.1’ makes for a perfect late night record. Subtle and seeming to shy deliberately away from the limelight, it still echoes with a beauty that is hard to find.