“Young Fathers are dead,” declares the press release for the trio’s debut LP. But never have they sounded more alive than now, on a set where LA’s Anticon bumps fists with UK hip-hop giants Big Dada on release duties.
‘Dead’ is this act’s rawest, most emotion-heavy work to date. Coming after two well-received ‘Tape’ EPs – find ‘Tape Two’ reviewed here – this studio album proper needed to represent progression without completely distancing itself from what’d come before. And that’s a balance it strikes superbly.
So while ‘Dead’ doesn’t feature a track as immediately bracing (slash intimidating) as ‘Rumbling’, from ‘Tape One’, its heavyweight beats and enveloping lyrical interplay prove every second as intoxicating – once the flavour’s become accustomed to. And when the varied styles of ‘Dead’ do connect, it’s tough indeed to shake its impression.
While the threesome’s joint heritage is that of Nigeria, Liberia and Scotland, it’s the latter’s that underscores certain tracks with bagpipe-like drones and military drums. Yet, simultaneously, the threesome realises its share of rousing pop choruses and hooks (they are ‘pop boys’, after all). This is evident enough on lead single ‘Low’ (video below), while the breathless ‘Get Up’ showcases Young Fathers’ infectious live energy. If the opportunity arises, do see this act in the flesh.
‘Dead’ swills a dram of Buckfast, lifts its kilt up in your face and takes you to the Firth of Forth and back. But there’s a detour and a half en-route, via a multitude of global influences, political and social commentary, heartache and pain. Young Fathers possess that which makes the best British acts truly special: a singular identity born of multinational mixology.
Words: Felicity Martin / Mike Diver
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