Kae Tempest The Line Is a Curve Virgin
In an era of polarised discourse, where hyperconnection and isolation aren’t mutually exclusive, communication has never been so simultaneously unfathomable and omnipresent. Kae Tempest’s new record is built around this core tenet. The Line Is a Curve is not only the best album of their career, but a powerful act of self-affirmation.
Tempest’s vocal styling has always been provocational, but here their words cut with an urgency and precision that feels like a revelation. Tempest details in the liner notes how they recorded each song speaking directly to a person in the booth, and the majority of the songs on the record consist of a single take delivered to one of Tempest’s peers. It is both confessional (like on the intimate, voice note-recorded Smoking) and prophetic (on the odyssey Salt Coast), a living document of Tempest letting go of fear.
Labelling The Line Is a Curve as ‘spoken word’ feels reductive. The thunderous opening of Priority Boredom immediately explodes as an ominous cacophony of beats and synths, while Nothing to Prove is already a contender for one of the best rap tracks of the year. And this is all before we even get to More Pressure, a dizzying foray into pop featuring Kevin Abstract.
It’s on that song that we hear Tempest imploring us to “let me let go”, a command which summarily pinpoints the album’s feeling of release. Not that they need our permission; The Line Is a Curve is the joyful sound of an artist reaching their highest potential, on their own terms.