The hiatus Bloc Party took after finishing their tour for their third album Intimacy allowed frontman Kele Okereke to explore different sounds -- as much as possible, that is. Kele's solo debut, The Boxer, retains the dramatic, epic flair of his band, and that voice -- which is just as capable of hard-hitting chants as airy sighs -- is still the same. Still, he makes the most of this chance to break new musical ground, shaking off a lot of Bloc Party's gloom and channeling that band's urgency in a very different way. Kele flirted with electronics on Bloc Party's later work, but he dives headfirst into them here, particularly on the opening track "Walk Tall," which makes a grand dancefloor statement with a boot camp chant, a swarming, dubstep-inspired bassline, and beats that are equally rubbery and robotic. "Tenderoni" is Kele's take on synth-pop, pitting an introspective melody against revved-up synths and rhythms. Guitars aren't heard on The Boxer until "The Other Side," but even this song doesn't resemble Kele's day job much; with exotic percussion like claves and agogo mixed with a rumbling synth bass, it's far more daring than any music he's done before. "Rise" is another standout, morphing from a gamelan-tinged beginning to a dark and twisty electronic coda, and the oddly choppy "On the Lam," which features sped-up vocals, shows that Kele isn't afraid of taking risks even if they don't always pay off. The Boxer's second half retreats to slower and more familiar territory with brooding songs like "Unholy Thoughts." But even here, Kele finds room to explore with the delicate duet "The New Rules" and "All the Things I Could Never Say," which recalls LCD Soundsystem's fusion of electronics and singer/songwriter musings (albeit without James Murphy's dry wit). "Yesterday's Gone" closes The Boxer on a more uplifting but more introspective note than it opened on, but the entire album shows that Okereke is more nimble and limber on his own, able to stretch and grow in ways that a full band might not do so easily. While a few songs aren't quite as dynamic as the rest, this album proves that Kele has more than enough ideas and identity for a solo career.