Less a lesson in how to meet widespread acclaim head-on and more a celebration in abiding to nobody else’s rules, ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ is the follow-up Young Fathers were always destined to make. One Mercury Prize to their name, the genre-meshing trio have created another chasm of unhinged energy, rich in chants, bold moves and above anything else - positivity.
They could have gone for a richer, box-ticking version of 2014 full-length ‘DEAD’, but the Edinburgh group recorded most of their new LP in various hotel rooms, abandoned spaces - anywhere with room for a microphone and a laptop. With that, ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ captures the chaotic life on the road. Anxiety and adventure run side by side, creating Young Fathers’ most fearless release yet.
It’s chaos, the most extreme kind of hybrid imaginable.
Major keys set the tone on ‘Shame’ and the all-affirming ‘Nest’, in similar vein to ‘Tape Two’ (an early, spur-of-the-moment release pre-dating ‘DEAD’). ‘White Men…’ gives off an energy that doesn’t leave room for second guessing. There’s zero hesitation or breathing space across twelve tracks - pretty much standard for these guys. The difference, however, is that instead of emerging with a dense, heavy-going record, Young Fathers have struck gold on something more rewarding than its predecessor.
More than anything, ‘White Men Are Black Men Too’ goes even further in the group’s attempts to escape being pigeonholed. Call them hip-hop and they’ll turn their noses up. Mention any kind of trajectory or “breakthrough” and eyes roll. Despite the title, there’s nothing political about the record. ‘Sirens’ belongs on dusky streets in the freezing cold, ‘Rain or Shine’ carries a post-midnight quality. But there’s nothing distinctly Scottish or neatly-contained about this record. It’s chaos, the most extreme kind of hybrid imaginable. With that freedom, they sound more excitable and progressive than ever, like they’re chasing a pot of gold that contains endless truths.
Nestled within the madness are the best tracks Young Fathers have made to date - ‘John Doe’ is a bonkers dose of rhythm, ’27’ an earnest ode to survival. ‘DEAD’ was a primal jolt to the system, a dose of adrenaline worthy of big gongs. But this is the next step.
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Ending a year that’s seen them release brilliant third album ‘Cocoa Sugar’ with a UK tour and huge Brixton Academy gig, Young Fathers remain the most idiosyncratic, convention-swerving band we have.
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The new mag, celebrating the great and good of 2018, is out this Friday (9th November)!
All the biggest and best tracks of the week, rounded up and reviewed.