Kae Tempest is renowned for their narrative-led, socially conscious writings that span poetry and fiction, playwriting and music. 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. It’s both a melancholy and hopeful project, dealing with isolation, love and apathy. Introspection and vulnerability preside throughout. “Nothing to hate but life,” they rap on the grayscale Nothing to Prove. Still, when Tempest decelerates the flow on No Prizes, the suspense and intensity fade away, leaving the track feeling a little empty.
Tempest’s work is at its most profound when the cadence and rhythms embody those of the spoken word. The theatrical ebbs and flows of their vocals on Salt Coast acutely capture the timely themes of “sleeve-pulling nervousness” caused by everything from Covid to micro-aggressions. “The whole sky is broken. It opens upon me,” they weep over stirring guitar and drums in the exhilarating These Are the Days. Sensitive and punchy as always.