There is unrestrained energy coursing through ‘Heavy Heavy’, the fourth album from Scottish trio Young Fathers. The numerous styles that fill their sonic smorgasbord – soul, pop, rock, hip-hop, noise – fit together neatly here like the pieces of a puzzle; the band never once sounding disjointed when one sound gives way to the next, often within the same track. In a similar vein to their previous material, the listener is quickly swept along on the Mercury Prize-winning band’s latest dark and dense pop journey that achieves what many artists ultimately aspire to: creating and then honing a sound entirely of their own making.
Ambiguous lyrics such as “fill these boots to feel my soul and say, ‘Buy more drugs to feel that love again’ / Kill them slow, they reap I sow, amen” fill the record’s frenetic opener ‘Rice’, and in fact refer to the goldminers who are destroying natural resources in Africa and the people who are forced into this form of labour. It’s a mark of the band’s strong songwriting nous that such politicised lyrics are subtly imbued across a project that still manages to be equal parts anthemic and infectious.
Dizzying songs like ‘I Saw’, which features skittish drums and heavy bass, turn lines as simple as “brush your teeth, wash your face, run away” into hypnotising mantras, while pleading chants of “please” on the beautiful, reverb-soaked ‘Geronimo’ are stretched until it sounds like a stuck vinyl skipping.
The pacing of this 10-track record brings a welcome sense of cohesion. ‘Tell Somebody’, an initially softer and melancholic track, is deftly placed between the fiery ‘Drum’ and the aforementioned ‘Geronimo’. Then there’s the pensive ‘Ululation’ – a surreal song in its own right that gradually ascends towards euphoric heights – which serves as a necessary palate cleanser amid the pop-punk-rap hybrid the band have made their own since their 2011 mixtape debut ‘Tape One’.
‘Heavy Heavy’ is a passionate, soulful and often mesmerising work that will stick around long past the first listen. Succinct and underpinned by a catchy melodic structure, it continues Young Fathers’ peerless run of singular albums and further cements them as one of the more unique acts to exist today. As epitomised by the euphoria they evoke with the chord and tempo shifts heard on the album’s closer ‘Be Your Lady’, there simply is no one else like Young Fathers.
Release date: February 3
Record label: Ninja Tune