After four years and a couple brushes with death, the eclectic UK indie trio return with their most fully-realized meeting of the funky and the sublime.
The Invisible make modern music that is also primitive and basic in its intensity. Maybe part of this is their nature, but there also has been no shortage of serious personal circumstances to inform their art. Their sophomore effort, Rispah (2012) was inspired by the death of singer/guitarist Dave Okumu’s mother. The band have said the new Patience is meant to be a celebration of life after Okumu himself narrowly escaped death after being electrocuted while on stage, but don’t expect a batch of life-affirming uptempo stompers. Patience finds the British trio as meditative as ever, even when they are being funky.
The very title of the album is meant to indicate a step back from the hectic, instant-gratification culture that has become the Western norm. Indeed, the nine songs encourage the listener to allow time for them to develop. Once they do so, they create a warm and inviting sonic cocoon that comes as its own kind of affirmation. “Easy come, easy go / If you don’t tell me, I’ll never know”, says Okumu on the opening “So Well”. In the Invisible’s case, patience does not equal reticence, just as composure does not equal ennui.
The four-year gap between albums has seen the band keeping busy with production and collaboration with the likes of Hot Chip, Adele, and many others. Despite this, Patience is a clear continuation of the sonic journey that began with the Invisible’s self-titled debut in 2009 and continued with Rispah. Their unique combination of indie-folk gentleness and heavy funk rhythms continues to become more stretched out and ethereal. At the same time, it retains and even improves upon a more traditional sense of melody and structure.
Moody, evocative synthesizers continue to work their way into the tracks, complementing rather than smothering Okumu’s guitar and Leo Taylor’s often jazzy drumming. It’s testament to the Invisible’s singular aesthetic that their sound remains so consistent even though Patience finds them opening up to collaborate with guests more than ever before on their own albums. British singer-songwriters Rosie Lowe and Anna Calvi add their silken voices to the midtempo funk of “Different”, probably the album’s most hooky song, and the brooding “Love Me Again”. Kiwi psych-popper Connan Mockasin lends a hand on the off-kilter trip-hop of “K Town Sunset”. Even this more abstract track manages a real, tangible chorus.
Okumu’s soft, velvety vocals are often deep in the mix. Occasionally, as on the nervous electro-funk of “Best of Me”, the music sinks down with it, until it all gets a bit too lost in the haze. More often, though, Patience yields the kind of subtle satisfaction that only increases with repeated listening. In another subtle move, the Invisible have tucked Patience’s two best tracks away at the end of the album. “Memories” is built on a syncopated, sampled rhythm drumbeat, an emotive bassline, and Okumu’s reverb-drenched voice. “Believe in Yourself” is grounded in the album’s most straight-ahead, hip hop-influenced rhythm. This along with some super-groovy electro-bass provide a nice counterpoint to the minor-key synths and Okumu’s croon. “Can you tell me / Do you believe in yourself?”, Okumu asks as the synths momentarily turn brighter. It’s sublime, moving, uplifting, and danceable as well.
Patience presents the quiet, comforting confidence of a band that has grown into its sound while continuing to push it forward. It already feels like one of the key indie albums of the year.