Kate Tempest – “Europe Is Lost” (Singles Going Steady)

This is exactly the time when protest music should be coming back in full force, and Kate Tempest hits us where it should hurt, reminding us what we should be caring about and what we do care about.

Steve Horowitz: This track and video kick serious butt, taking on the problems of the world in a direct, powerful, and poetic manner. Tempest raps straight and true, pointing out the bullshit (literally) and distractions along the way. The beat is steady, the imagery thoughtful and compelling, but it’s the words that carry the weight. Freakin’ awesome and scary. The lessons told are too complex for restatement other than to say we live in perilous times and it may be too late to do much about it other than to tell each other the news lest we each think we are nuts for thinking bad thoughts. [9/10]

Andrew Paschal: Caught up in the minutiae of one moment to the next, it’s easy to be misled by distractions and to lose sight of the larger, insidious picture. On “Europe Is Lost”, Kate Tempest climbs to a high enough vantage point to perceive the broader patterns of the present era — not just the turmoil and unrest presently washing over the Western world, but also the way we anesthetize and blind ourselves to the rotting foundations beneath our feet, desperately clinging to false comforts. “Traffic keeps moving / Sex is still good when you get it / But what about the oil spill? Shh!” she raps, illustrating how the veil of normalcy can conceal dangerous changes that happen before we even realize it. An impressively lucid perspective on our current condition. [8/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: This is exactly the time when protest music should be coming back in full force, and Kate Tempest hits us where it should hurt, reminding us what we should be caring about and what we do care about, juxtaposing global issues and distractions in the same breaths, pulling no punches as she reminds us of the urgent current events that so many of us desperately try to ignore. “All that is meaningless rules / We have learned nothing from history,” she scolds. Tempest has no intention of gently uniting us; she’s here to hit us in the head with the truth, whether we like it or not. [8/10]

Chris Pittaway: Songs like this can go astray fairly quickly, especially given the sheer scope of Tempest’s assault. She’s basically taking on the entire modern world. But there is nothing trite, nothing insincere and nothing cringy about “Europe Is Lost”. It’s a well-oiled machine of a track, Tempest’s flow starts off simple but builds quickly into a sharp, furious snarl as she breaks down her generation’s reasons to despair and their deadly apathy (‘Massacres, massacres, massacres… new shoes!’). The production is somewhat minimalistic, keeping the focus on the nightmare world Tempest is building with her poetic voice. Harrowing and essential. [9/10]

Mike Schiller: Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it. Kate Tempest’s state-of-the-world screed says little that a left-leaning activist doesn’t already know or believe — basically, everything is horrible, and we let it happen — but the delivery of her words combined with the grim shocks of this fan-made-turned-official video drive home that point in a way that feels like staring into a funhouse mirror for four minutes. By never dwelling on a single point, Tempest forces us to listen close to her list of grievances and marvel at the hopelessness of their cumulative weight. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: Maybe I’m just not up on cockney-accented hip-hop, but when I hear this, the first thing that comes to mind is a female Mike Skinner. The samples are delicious — I love that dirty, scratchy, low-end bass. Tempest does a great job cramming as much protest as possible into less than five minutes. This is exciting, vital, socially conscious art in the age of Brexit. [8/10]

SCORE: 8.33