South London’s Kate Tempest may in fact be the epitome of a modern poet. Not only does she perform spoken word, she has released a novel, worked as a playwright and simultaneously records music as a rapper. With this broad range of experience up her sleeves, her sophomore album Let Them Eat Chaos was always going to laced with a level of lyricism and storytelling unmatched by many.
Following her conceptual debut Everybody Down, Tempest decided to return to this layout, with reoccurring themes emerging in a way that make the discovery and evolution of the story entertaining and revolutionary.
Turning to the first page, Picture A Vacuum sets the scene, painting the picture that the world currently faces. From global warming to corporations and their factories and even branching into politics, Kate doesn’t hold back at all. This is a theme that flows eerily throughout the project, and makes an especially powerful statement in the closing track. While this environmental reflection flows throughout, it is paralleled by the story of seven lonely individuals, who “shiver in the middle of the night, counting their sheepish mistakes”. Introduced in Lionmouth Door Knocker where the overall concept is detailed, the rest of the tracks serve as comprehensive insights into each of their stories.
Built upon a range of dub inspired synths and bass tones, Ketamine For Breakfast is the first of these stories, following Gemma who is shaken by her drug paddling past. There’s a level of storytelling which Tempest executes masterfully, and is a unique skill which is unparalleled. Lines like “open eyes, street lights float slowly through open blinds” beautifully paint a mental image of the world these characters live in.
One of the highlights in Europe Is Lost follows, with yet another neck-shattering gritty experimental sub beat. As we delve into another late night dweller’s worries, Tempest comments on society, ignorance and self-medication brilliantly. “No trace of love in the hunt for the bigger buck, here in the land where nobody gives a fuck”. Each track delves deeper into the stories of these sleepless souls, whether it be the synth wailing, bass-line grooving We Die, which comments on the haunting nature of the past, or the chaotic Whoops which closes in on the ‘live for the moment’ mentality with the drunken Pete, “every time he gets paid he gets wasted and wakes up with less than he made”
The sole single Don’t Fall In storms in with more cutting edge lyricism related to the ignorance and immoral judgement we as a society make. Pair this with yet another electronic laced beat; this is remarkable to say the least.
Venturing back into the character tales, Pictures On The Screen describes Bradley’s struggle as the passenger in his own life, “life’s just a thing that he does”. And while Bradley struggles to understand his living, two doors down Zoe has packed her life into boxes and reflects on how the city has changed and no longer wants her. Yet another angle, the track Grubby take this one step further and ventures into how a past lover constantly torments the isolated Pius.
Now that we’ve met the seven who battle with their demons, a twist emerges. As the predicted storm rolls through their quiet neighbourhood, forcing those restless individuals to venture to the street, “here’s our seven perfect strangers”, washed clean by the forgiving rain.
For the finale Kate pulls out a plethora of thought provoking verses with Tunnel Vision, leaving the listener ripped in two. A heartfelt plea for justice, she hits hard at the blind eye many of us turn when it comes to the environmental issues, the refugees, wars and society period, “staring at the screen so we don’t have to see the planet die…another day, another chance to turn your face away from pain”
Let Them Eat Chaos is heartfelt, eye opening and wholly captivating. Armed with her literary background, Kate Tempest has managed to create an incredibly strong and flowing work which branches into societal, political, racial, capitalist and environmental issues. Sure that sounds like a huge pill to swallow, but instead thanks to her relatable and entirely genuine voice and writing style, you’re guided through the project and left feeling complete, yet yearning for change. She is a master of language, and how she transcends emotion and storytelling beyond the page or the rhythm below is simply remarkable.
Maybe she really is the epitome of the modern poet.
Image: Kate Tempest Facebook