Following the duo of EPs over the past year, ‘Dead’ is every bit an evolution of Young Fathers’ sound as it is a deconstruction of hip-hop. Beating the genre down to its very foundations, there’s no boundaries to be found throughout. Young Fathers’ music is as bewildering and terrifying as getting lost in the deepest, darkest cave. Their abrasive tendencies only serve to ward off those not up to the task, but get past the initially intimidating exterior and you’ll be treated to an incredibly confident and gorgeously composed debut.
Coming in at a brisk 34 minutes, ‘Dead’ spends no time meandering. The rhythms are primitive and murk-encrusted, but the lyricism is astute and pungent. Alarmingly immediate, ‘Dead’ revels in its own foreboding muck.
On opener ‘No Way’, the trio chant ‘We’ll never find peace, the war is too pretty’, which stands as a brilliant analogy for their appeal. They’re reluctant to settle and eager to push what they’re capable of, destroying anything in their way in the process. The bleak atmosphere whirs throughout an ever-changing intensity, hitting a jagged peak on the blistering exorcism of words that is ‘Paying’. The lurching pendulum-like swing of ‘Hangman’ is among one of the more grim moments, featuring lines as tar-black as ‘revenge is a dish best served cold, like ice cold with an ice pick and a blind fold.’
The atmosphere isn’t always strictly severe, knowing right when to let up with gorgeous melodies seeping through the chiselled cracks. These moments save the record from being vociferous without a cause, allowing the more vehement moments to speak louder than they would otherwise. It’s not a full maturation of their sound, as it shuffles around far too much to fully develop. However, if ‘Dead’ did hang around long enough to perfect itself, then it just wouldn’t be the captivating listen that it is.
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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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