There is nothing spare about this album. Each track of The Invisible Line is lashed and laced with strings and synths. It is oddly sumptuous and indulgent.
The four-piece centres on songwriters Robert Diament (vocals) and Luke Busby (keyboards). Along with Mark Ferguson on guitar and Mathis Richet’s drumming they have gathered a rich diversity of experience, supporting Grace Jones and Goldfrapp and remixing tracks by M.I.A. and Madonna. Their first single came out years ago – why it’s taken so long to get the (self-released) album out is unclear.
The egoism of the opening track Don’t Mess With Me is quite delicious: “If you want survival, kneel on my arrival.” Diament’s sharp voice can handle his smart and sometimes quite eccentric lyrics with verve, even if he leaves little to the imagination with lines like: “I am roar, a dinosaur but I will never be extinct… I’ve no time to kill so how about a quick fuck? I’ve cum it’s been fun but won’t you please disappear. Something tells me you can’t further my career.” You have to hope he’s indulging in irony, for how many times can they flaunt impressions of superiority before their listeners start to think less of them?
Joy, on the other hand, is a return to humbleness, a resplendent electro track celebrating the cosmos. Its angular and oscillating intro (something of a recurring feature on the album) is a catchy foundation upon which everything else is built. It channels an energy and exuberance through its sinuous synths and bass. Blame is another opulent and inflated gem.
It’s Better To Have Loved switches pace, a sombre ballad that enters hitherto unexplored ground for Temposhark – something vulnerable. They present the case for preferring agonizing heartbreak and the desire to rewind life to the loneliness of never having loved at all with disjointed beats and soft, swirling strings. It’s a good crack on an old chestnut.
There are collaborations with the trio of Guy Sigsworth, singer Imogen Heap and Sean McGhee, all of Frou Frou fame. Not That Big, featuring Heap, is stomping number mourning the idea of not being a major feature in someone’s life. Heap’s wails are emotionally charged and almost painful, making it a golden moment on the album.
Lyrical flights of fantasy further abound with Crime, which fantasises about being an outlaw mastermind, while Little White Lie attempts to turn the act of picking up a groupie into an elegy for honesty. The more ethereal Invisible Ink urges us not to “leave the world without making them think… changing something”.
Temposhark are the exacting, dirtier, sleazier, lustier, angst–ridden offspring of Depeche Mode and Duran Duran. Similarly, thanks in part to mating with the team behind Frou Frou, they have embraced high and vivid production values. The Invisible Line is a theatrical hotbed of creative energy that is going to be difficult not to admire.