DECEMBER: Young Fathers: Dead

young-fathers-theonepointeight

Can we forget about the Mercury? Probably not but I fear this may descend into a critique of the Mercury decision rather than critique of a piece of music. Anyway, let’s have a roll and see how this works out?

For me, this is an album of 11x 3 min pop tracks (no song under 2 min 50, none over 3 min 51). I am sure we will debate the word ‘pop’ as I think at least one of us will struggle with that definition? I would argue that you can’t have as many hooks in one album of 3 min tracks and it not be a ‘pop’ album.  It doesn’t matter  that the group choose to deliberately sabotage their own ‘pop’ credentials in dark, dystopian, discordant, choral chants, nose-diving bass lines and berating beats.

This isn’t easy listening. Having said that I found it effortless to get into (not bragging I just think this ticks loads of my boxes). But I understand that most people find the opposite to be true. I’ve recently gone back (album released in Jan 2014) and read loads of reviews of this album and most say that it is difficult to penetrate but massively rewarding when you do. I always bang on about ‘when’ I can listen to music and this is a distracting listen that really requires you to engage in its finer points. Background music this is not. Tunes to play while working? Nope. Driving, public transport etc, Yep. I listen to it most when training.

Much has been made about the multi-cultural make up of the band which all feels a little ‘Mercury’ to me until you start listening to the lyrics and picking through the subject matter.  ‘Ak47 take my brethren straight to heaven’ is pure hip hop cliche in an LA accent but it appears more impactful and evocative in an African (Young Fathers = Liberian, Nigerian. Scottish) accent and preceded by the imagery conjured up in the opening verses of ‘No Way’, the albums opening track. If you like this album then I would suggest spending some time with the lyrics of these tracks.

http://genius.com/artists/Young-fathers

I think this album avoids the ‘worthiness’ which it could have created with its multi-ethnic (Scottish included) influences and a lyrical topics. It feels like all of the constituent parts (ethnic background: check / socially conscious lyrics: check / eclectic influences: check) make for a cliche-ridden horror show but at each opportunity to fall into that hipster trap is swerves either lyrically or sonically and avoids the cliche. As if sat in the studio they felt it a track was getting a bit too nice so they chucked in a massive tribal rhythm and discordant drone to scare off the ‘wrong crowd’.

Who does this sound like? Anti-Pop Consortium, TV on the Radio, Shabazz Palaces, New Flesh, Saul Williams … New Fathers?As mentioned before this ticks loads of my boxes and I love all of the artists listed above (Shabazz excluded – sorry David may be I need to try that one again?).

So, similar to FKA Twigs, at the point of winning the Mercury, they’d only sold 3,000 units. Its now at least 3,004. But does this matter? Sales does not correlate to quality. Just look at the Cinema Box Office.

Brothers, your thoughts?

Do we need to talk about Young Fathers?

I think we do. Can we get over the Mercury hype? Do we need to if its justified?

I am very impressed with this album. Shall we do this as next album of the month? I can save my shortlist for my next go.

Brother David – do you remember the New Flesh album?
Brother Nolan – do you remember me endlessly playing Anti-Pop Consortium whilst on mushrooms?

All of the above plus much more is in this album.

November Album: Caribou – Our Love

After last month’s SBTRKT album which brought very mixed reviews I have chosen to stick with a dance driven album and select Caribou’s ‘Our Love’.

This for me has been the most anticipated album release for 2014. I was a huge fan of his ‘Swim’ album and loved his in-between project under the alias of Daphni. The first single off the album ‘Can’t Do Without You’ was my summer anthem, soon followed by the second single ‘Our Love’.

This album has so many layers to it but as I want to hear what the rest of you think so I’m just going to hit on the main two for me:

1 – The music!! Structure wise, composition, production…. All I can say is OOOOFFFFFF! It’s all I hoped for and more. I have read a few articles saying that this album is more of a Daphni album than a Caribou album but I disagree. The Daphni releases are much more basic compositions than this album. Sure there must be massive influences from playing clubs and festivals for the last three years, but this isn’t a Daphni album. On swim I felt that he left you wanting more from a few of the songs and he has reached that point on this album. Some of the songs build and build which I love. Some bring you fully into their world. Once again, OOOOFFFFFF!

2 – The Lyrics. I listened to this album for about two weeks before even paying attention to the lyrics. Musically it is that strong. When I took the step to get into the lyrics this album then started coming across in a different way. For me this album is about love and relationships (in a very basic way). Compared to ‘Swim’ Caribou seems to have opened up much more which has aided his album structure for me. On ‘Swim’ I thought he gave us a taste and left it at that.

There is much more I could get into but I want to hear your thoughts on this.

Album of the year, possibly? I reckon it’ll be in my top three for sure.