Remember when Massive Attack played the Downs? I do. The Bristol natives put on quite the show on the mainstage. But midafternoon, in a tiny tent, Kate Tempest put on a one-woman performance to rival all the lights and lasers that the headliners could muster.
Under that bit of canvas in Clifton along with about a hundred others, I heard Tempest’s second album ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ a month before release. I seem to remember I enjoyed it, though my memory is slightly clouded due to an afternoon’s worth of red stripes.
Now, a month later the record is out and I can safely say that it is just as enjoyable sober.
A brief explanation of the album: all the tracks are part of a larger story; Tempest looks into the lives of seven people living on a street in London who are still awake at 4:18am. As is the way with humans, they’ve all got problems, and it’s impossible not to find a bit of yourself in each of them.
We start with ‘Picture a Vacuum’ an intro akin to that of 2001: A Space Odyssey, painting for us our place in the universe, the solar system, Earth and finally England, with a palette of just 26 letters.
The delivery on ‘We Die’ is heartbreaking and Tempest telling me ‘the point of life is live, love if you can then pass it on’ on ‘Ouch’ sent me into an existential crisis. ‘Whoops’, the tale of a young man pissing his income away on nights out cuts particularly deep as a perpetually drunk student before the pivotal ‘Brew’ deftly moves the story along.
Dan Carey’s production on ‘Don’t Fall In’ is reminiscent of the Super Mario dungeon theme and thus is the shit. It jabbers along as we make our way towards the highlight of the album: ‘Pictures On a Screen’. A minute and a half prologue sets the scene and introduces to our tragic leading man Bradley. It proffers the line of the LP ‘life is just a thing that he does’ before the song gets started for real. It’s a soothing, stark study of purposelessness; chillingly beautiful.
The album ends with tunnel vision, leaving us with the moral of the story ‘wake up and love more’ before Carey’s dreamy synths lull us back to our own lives.
This album is an album’s album. It has to be listened to at once and in its proper order. Tempest’s true talent is in telling stories of everyday people with everyday problems in a way that is both engaging and insightful.
This is a great album. Listen to it.