The Book of Traps and Lessons

Kae Tempest - The Book of Traps and Lessons
Critic Score
Based on 20 reviews
2019 Ratings: #107 / 771
User Score
Based on 154 ratings
2019 Ratings: #392
Liked by 5 people
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The Skinny
It's a journey both admirable and extraordinary; a monumental achievement that stands utterly alone.
Emotionally, there's a lot to unpack, but the need to feel and engage more deeply is one of her primary decrees, and this powerful album is a lesson worth learning.
The Line of Best Fit

The album makes us confront the stark reality of how abhorrent we are as a human race. At times, it’s almost uncomfortable to listen to.

Tempest demands her listeners to remain vigilant of modernity's connection to past villainies.
There is a powerful understatement to this album that yields more secrets with every listen.
Loud and Quiet

The Book of Traps and Lessons feels needed, not to make sense of the chaos, but to gain some comfort in knowing your fears are everyone else’s.

While this is perhaps Tempest’s darkest work to date, there is light and hope to be found too, like on the tender ‘Firework’, an emotive ode to her partner. On ‘The Book of Traps and Lessons’ Kate Tempest continues to impress as one of the UK’s most vital voices.
The Guardian
This record is a living poem that captures the angry tension of being alive in 2019: trying not to look directly at the oncoming crises, trying to love and give and dance in the midst of firesmoke.
The Observer

Her third finds Tempest hooking up with Rick Rubin, and the effect is revelatory.

Beauty squares up to ugliness on the south Londoner's latest, and a tenderness that previously lingered on the edges of Tempest's work steps to the fore.
Under The Radar
It is a genuine surprise that this is Tempest's first record not to be Mercury Prize-nominated, given it could well go down as her best, but regardless, this is a highly satisfactory work.

Overall The Book Of Traps And Lessons is best with a healthy dose of thoughtfulness and nuance, and while it falters on the occasions when these are disregarded, this album is another example of why Tempest’s spoken-word works now routinely amplify well beyond her poetic beginnings.

No Ripcord
Whether you think she’s preaching to the choir or an important voice, it’s difficult not to agree with how she describes herself: “Neat with no chaser - all spirit."
The Independent

While there are great moments, Tempest’s trembling delivery of certain words, with the intention of giving them an air of profundity, can quickly become tiresome.

This album is just filled with ratings that are super high, and super low. So many people hate this album calling it "boring", and so many people love this album. I personally don't find this album boring, this is quite an interesting album. I guess the only thing bad in this album doesn't really switch things up. I haven't listened to much spoken word music at all, but, the other spoken word album I've heard that came out this year was The Flower and the Vessel, and that had a mix ... read more
Not interesting musically speaking.

Also contains no interesting speaking.

It's like spending 45 excruciating minutes in the company of a female version of Danny from Withnail and I. Compare for example:

"I don't advise a haircut, man. All hairdressers are in the employment of the government. Hair are your aerials."


"Happiness, the brand, is not happiness, we are smarter than they think we are. They take us all for idiots, but that's their problem."

There is little ... read more
Dumb question why are going next year like her this album not bad
I vibe with a lot of what she is saying, don't get me wrong. But it's just repetetive and long winded. There's some good thinking material on here, but I was pretty much just mulling over the same things about 6 songs in.
The spoken-word poet-artist's fourth studio record gazes her eye on the tribulations and current political climate over modern Britain with a striking voice as a medium for her words ever biting and timely as ever over simple synth tapestry and sparse electronics that cracks and reaches. It may not the audience it tackles but with her voice as distinctive as hers, it won't go unnoticed. Until then, her altruism is as relevant as ever.
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Added on: May 2, 2019