For too long, perhaps, the UK has looked to ape its US cousins in all musical fields save for mundane, middle-of-the-road indie (which we do ever so well).
But glimmers of a revolution were evident in 2008 – the Late Of The Pier album, for example – and now this debut offering from London trio The Invisible dares to emerge with a singular voice, loud and proud from rooftops usually dwarfed by towering skyscrapers.
Dissecting the sound this three-piece conjures is a process that no pleasure can be gleaned from; better to let the myriad constituent elements work their magic, as so expertly weaved are they that each track seems to stand alone as a statement of purest intent in its own right. As such one could present the argument that ‘The Invisible’ doesn’t wholly hold up as a coherent album, a single piece of audio art; but the counter comes quick: aren’t most debut albums fractured affairs?
So the criticism holds little water, and besides, while there’s not necessarily a bridge between each and every one of these twelve tracks, a connection that represents a passage from piece to piece, the band’s sound is one entirely unique to them. So, while opener ‘In Retrograde’ – all initial understatement and gently building percussion – bears little aesthetic similarity to the dizzyingly anthemic ‘Monsters Waltz’, the presence of Dave Okumu’s great voice and underlying sensibilities of control and precision over showboating cockiness (believe, these three are highly skilled musicians) ensures a thread of sorts passes from one to another. Styles dance blindly with one another – dub, electro, straight-up radio-friendly indie-rock. But always these bedfellows settle down soundly, little marriages that last.
The group’s last single ‘London Girl’ is an early highlight – the track rides in on an insistent bassline that just begs to be moved to, while Okumu’s vocal contributions glide into focus atop his own meticulous guitar work. It’s easy to hear why The Invisible have attracted enviable comparisons to TV On The Radio, as a song like this is both effortlessly hip and hugely accessible, but it should be noted that the trio’s work is a lot less try-hard. No disrespect to TVOTR, but much of their output seems a little over-studied, as if it’s the result of prolonged trial and error; ‘The Invisible’, at its best, conveys a natural creative spark that, you feel, happened swiftly and was settled on without further tinkering. Thus, a freshness is exuded that becomes quite addictive.
‘OK’ digs up the ghost of punk-funk at its best – The Rapture duelling !!! in a Brooklyn warehouse – before switching gears to incorporate meandering guitar trickery and acoustic tangents, while a female vocal spars with Okumu for the listener’s attentions; ‘Climate Revelation’ clunks and clangs like Animal Collective with their wings clipped, in a good way – while the US experimentalists would let the song soar into otherworldly escapism, The Invisible hold it tight to the ground, keeping it gritty and all the more interesting for each and every one of its industrial crunches. Come closer ‘Time Waits’, The Invisible have run an impressive gamut across genres, magpie-like in their co-opting of preferred facets; the track itself is almost Muse-like in arrangement, twitchy but huge-sounding at the same time.
At no point do The Invisible let their abilities run away from songs which require restraint, and the result is a debut that benefits from a downplayed brilliance. Ambition is detectable, and progression inevitable – the next release could be an absolute left turn. But in terms of producing an introduction of intriguing depth and no shortage of surprises, this trio have succeeded spectacularly.
Now, America, you have what to offer…?
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Read an exclusive interview with The Invisible HERE and look out for a special live performance filmed exclusively for ClashMusic.com later this week.