This is the most personal collection Kate Tempest has ever written... Intimacy is its strength: the life could not be more private, the scrutiny of love, sex and sorrow will speak to anyone who has suffered a broken heart. Yet, at the same time, the overexposed quality of some of the poems is also its weakness. I sometimes felt voyeuristic as I read – as though witnessing more than I ought (while reminding myself that the decisions about what to include are Tempest’s own)... If you have ever heard Tempest perform, you cannot unhear her voice when you read her poems on the page. The voice is unique – singsong, naive and knowing... This is a reminder of the poet Kate Tempest is – able, whenever she chooses, to soar above the conversational.
Born in 1985, Kate Tempest is unquestionably one of the major poets of her generation . . . Tempest tends to be at her best when she builds up a head of steam, as in Brand New Ancients, where lines and lines of tightly-coiled verse come tumbling out of her with a cumulative force that’s impossible to resist. By contrast, poems like “Headfuck” and “Getting Out More” feel almost throwaway, not just lacking in scale (both are less than ten lines long) but also in terms of intellectual ambition. It’s hard to imagine either of them being accepted for publication in a literary magazine if they didn’t have Tempest’s name attached.
There are a few clunkers: one poem, "So I moved back to the old neighbourhood", is eerily close to Alan Partridge's Scissored Isle spoof of edgy verse... But the high points are high indeed; a short lyric called "Firework" soars like one. I found Running Upon the Wires irresistible, flaws and all. If you've avoided the ubiquitous Tempest till now, this might win you over.