Despite having won immense critical praise for their self-titled debut album, an experimental journey into a fascinating brand of indie rock music, London-based band The Invisible’s sophomore effort, Rispah, abandons the some of the quirks of the first album and replaces them with slower, ambient songs that tire and turn off the casual listener.
Rispah does have a truly unique sound — The Invisible combines elements from electronic music and post-rock, creating a style that is comparable to In Rainbows-era Radiohead or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, if either of those bands decided to experiment with drum machines and dance synths. The record is dark, cool, and contains an incredibly atmospheric, almost ethereal quality.
The problem with Rispah as a whole, though, is that the unique sound never changes or divulges from its formula. Most songs nearly identical and never sway in style or tone. While the electronic meets post-rock may have been intriguing from the start of the album, it is downright boring by the end. A few of songs on the Rispah do shine, like Wings, The Wall, and the closing track Protection; these songs have more sophisticated arrangements and simply sound different from the eight other tracks on the record. Wings, in particular, is one of the most fast paced songs on Rispah, which makes it stand out.
Front man Dave Okumu’s vocals, while contributing to the album’s dark elements, add very little to Rispah. Okumu doesn’t have a bad singing voice; in fact, it’s very beautiful and fits well with the stylistic choices of The Invisible. But his long, brooding drawl just blends into the instrumentals as if it were not a voice at all, and the electronic additions to his vocals make lyrics difficult to decipher. And the lyrics one can make out are ripe with cliches or seem simply uninspired, especially on the fourth track, Lifeline.
The Invisible have clearly succeeded in honing their aesthetics, but they have hit the sophomore slump with Rispah, which remains tiresome in its inability to change in sound or tone, lyrically and vocally. The uniqueness of Rispah allows for much potential, but results as monotonous.