March 27, 2008
Review: Temposhark's The Invisible Line
Wavy-haired Temposhark singer Rob Diament
After a few years of recording and releasing singles, Temposhark has finally released their debut CD, The Invisible Line. The band's pedigree is pretty serious: Guy Sigsworth produced two songs and his colleague Sean McGhee handles the rest. Producer Youth and violinist Sophie Solomon are also involved, as well as a major star mentioned below. It's a slick effort that sounds expensive even if it wasn't. Lead singer Rob Diament's voice reminds me a bit of Howard Jones or, perhaps, Duncan Sheik. A slightly reedy instrument you keep expecting to go off the rails, though it never does.
I like the fact that Temposhark are at heart a pop band. There are not many young men currently trading in this sound, aside from Darren Hayes, some of the 80's greats like Pet Shop Boys and, to a degree, Depeche Mode. Having said that, the boys don't always seem committed to that persona.
The Invisible Line has two faces: one is the lush power pop of single Blame, with its gorgeous, fleeting orchestrals at 2:30. The other is edgy electro rock on songs like Crime and Knock Me Out. I don't think they merge these halves successfully. For every song I like, there is a "butch" one I don't.
The standout piece here is a superb collaboration with Imogen Heap called Not That Big. This fantastic kiss-off song apparently is not intended as a double entendre (a fact I find a bit of a letdown!). Though Heap merely sings on the track, the track sounds much like her own solo work, so clear is the inspiration. It's Better To Have Loved and the drum-and-bassy Battleships build on this melody-driven style with great success.
The rocker tunes though, I just don't think they're strong points for Diament. The arrangements are edgy and staccato, but they sound sort of cheap, unlike their poppier counterparts. Occasionally Temposhark comes close to making these songs work by emplying unexpected twists, like a horn solo in the middle of metal angst drama Little White Lie.
Album opener Don't Mess With Me, is a more successful experiment, this one a sort of narcissistic chamber piece. Diamont gets to ham it up here, snarling, "I've come, it's been fun, but won't you please disappear?" Should this song be the first track on the record? Probably not, but it does grab attention.
Ultimately, while Temposhark clearly wants to work within a wide scope of styles, I think they should stick with their strength: 4 minute electropop-based tunes with strong melodies. As in real life, it's when men try too hard too prove they're not boys that it goes awry.
Hear Not That Big, Battleships and Don't Mess With Me at Temposhark's myspace. The Invisible Line is out now via iTunes US or UK. They've also done a free podcast for iTunes UK.
UPDATE, 2011: This band sucked ass.