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The Line Is A Curve

The Line Is A Curve

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Since making their live debut doing spoken word at 16, London-based Kae Tempest has made their mark across multiple disciplines: poetry, theater, fiction, and rapping. If you’ve ever wondered what Kae Tempest would sound like if they’d been a performer in a 1920s jazz bar, then you should have a listen to ‘These Are The Days’, the song that kicks off the second half of their latest album The Line Is A Curve. Next to these, there are album highlights such as ‘More Pressure’ (with Kevin Abstract) and ‘Nothing To Prove’ that are the most pure Hip-Hop songs on any of Kae’s four albums so far, no longer blurring the lines between rap and spoken word. The album’s longest track, Salt Coast and its shortest, Move, are perfect examples of songs where Tempest’s voice is suffocated by the music.

The track develops and unfolds magnificently, with dramatic, guitar-led sweeps, whilst all the while Tempest’s words increase in their urgency. Even when the beats enter to accompany Confucius’ rap halfway through, they don’t detract from the core because we are already engaged. For me, the album is about increasing resilience and raising your threshold for tolerance and acceptance. Elsewhere, on “Priority Boredom,” where each verse is dedicated to its own vowel sound, the monotony of individualism is cleverly represented with congested “or” sounds: “Priority boredom/Gorging/Four courses/Forced absorption,” they spit, the words like slushy fruit in their mouth. By contrast, some tracks on The Line Is A Curve do not succeed in drawing us in with quite the same impact, and that’s because they function in a fashion that is the polar opposite to both tracks discussed above.It is the first time they have leaned on so many influences, allowing themselves to put something out that isn’t tied as closely to ‘concept’ in the way that all of the other albums have been.

Grian Chatten has a stonking spoken-word verse on ‘I Saw Light’, Lianne La Havas’s vocals make ‘No Prizes’ a thing of pure beauty, Confucius MC takes ‘Smoking’ to a new level after a purposefully subdued verse from Kae, and Kevin Abstract is encouraged to hammer home the message at the end of ‘More Pressure. The Line Is a Curve is their fourth album and their most grounded to date, with songs that blend electronic, pop-rock and hip-hop. Pitchfork may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers.It was followed by something of a left turn in the form of the Rick Rubin produced The Book Of Traps And Lessons; an album that marked a surprising, yet unexpectedly welcome, departure from the visceral intensity of Let Them Eat Chaos.

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