It’s 4.18pm. On a residential road aisled with council flats and families, George is sitting hunched over a Sony laptop in his (sister’s) three-bed pad, full of box-packed IKEA consumerist crap. He is not London’s proletariat. Kate Tempest makes him feel very guilty when he listens to her second album comprised of the long-form poem Let Them Eat Chaos. He wonders what to say.
Kate 'Antoinette' shows the starving masses are eating chaos as she brings her eponymous tempest to a sleepwalking 21st Century public. The narrative of the 13 tracks is Biblical in proportion as it begins with the sun and stars and “how the planets are dangling around it”. After a series of vignettes omnisciently gazing down at “seven doors to seven flats”, she unleashes The Flood through “Brew” and “Don’t Fall In” on the Earth below. Her anger is Old Testament but the issues are all about our modern culture as she rails against gentrification, colonisation, wars, the police and our collective disconnectedness.
It’s surprisingly stirring as the closing line “I’m pleading with my loved ones to wake up and love one another” is repeated. The silver lining to the clouded atmosphere she whips up only appears occasionally and when it does, the invocation is to help one another, to group together. The asinine social commentary is motivating in its criticism. By astutely and acerbically illuminating the nation, and world’s ills, there is the implication to change and challenge. As a poet, Tempest unfurls endless lists of disaffection, most notably on lead single “Europe Is Lost” where her examples are most direct as she focuses on the House of Lords and David Cameron’s porkies. What would be the point of making us feel great about ourselves? We are part of the problem, which is hard to stomach, but fortunately she shows we can be part of the solution too.
Looking back at our review of Everybody Down, either Tempest has not progressed, or society hasn’t. The sonic backing to her performance poetry has a deeper, house confidence with contemplative synth flourishes. If you know anything about Tempest, you should know she’s not chiefly a musician, but a wordsmith. She forges a mighty hammer and her album has a thunderous resonance for our times.