Album of the month
The Invisible 'Patience' (Ninja Tune)
Sometimes you can’t help trainspotting. On very first listen to this album, we couldn’t help jotting down a list of acts we heard echoed: Frankie Knuckles, Dr Dre, Lindstrøm, Arthur Russell, Destiny’s Child, Fujiya & Miiyagi, Joy Division, Sade, Talk Talk, Stereolab. And that’s before you get onto the influence of the guest singers: Jessie Ware, Anna Calvi, Connan Mockasin and more. That’s a lot of good stuff, but hardly guaranteed to make a good record. Many artists, after all, just reach for cool reference points or hip guests when devoid of inspiration, and too many flavours stirred into the pot can end up making a nasty dish. Thankfully, none of that applies here. Somehow, among all the good taste, The Invisible have remembered to deliver killer grooves, killer songs and a coherent sound that’s all their own. The band have been around for a while: they’ve released two previous albums, nabbed a Mercury nomination and shared stages with everyone from Adele to Grace Jones. But despite their connectedness, their records have tended towards a certain indie worthiness, and lacked a vital spark. Here, though, that’s all been turned around. The songs are still mostly melancholic in tone, but the guitars are dialled back, the funk is turned up, there’s a Balearic shine to the production and, most importantly, there’s one subtle pop hook after another. From singer Dave Okumu’s semi-whispered funk chant of ‘Best Of Me’ to Mockasin’s distant keening on ‘K Town Sunset’, the multiple vocals aren’t upfront; they’re as elegantly woven into the textures as the snapping drums, rippling synth arpeggios and restrained guitar licks. Yet for all the subtlety they lodge instantly in your memory like the brashest pop hooks. It’s a twilight dream of a record that’s uncompromisingly odd but absolutely direct, and addictive from first listen. The Invisible have made the album of the summer.