Album Review

Bob Vylan - Humble As The Sun

Still a firm middle finger up to the forces trying to keep Bob Vylan down, but one shouted gleefully from the top of the podium.

Bob Vylan - Humble As The Sun

Across the 250 seconds of ‘Humble As The Sun’’s titular opening track, Bob Vylan distil the manifesto of a lifetime. Where the closing moments of 2022’s ‘… Presents The Price of Life’ left the London duo in a righteous fury, declaring frenzied war on the racist infrastructures of the country they reluctantly call home, two years later they return with a new frame of mind. Over church-like keyboards and steady, meditative pacing, with the resonant vocals of Nottingham singer Jerub acting as a tender foil, the pair introduce an album that still rings with frustration and vitality, but decides to actively prioritise positivity and choose hope. “The sun is fucking rising now / I’mma melt this glass ceiling / WATCH ME SHINE,” wills vocalist Bobby as lightly jungle-esque beats elevate the track to its close.

Though, from there, Bob Vylan’s third largely ups the pace, from the electronic, Prodigy-nodding beats of ‘Reign’ to the prowling punk of ‘Dream Big’, this purposeful shift in perspective nonetheless tweaks the message from aggression to defiance. The former track makes cheeky jokes about being robbed - not at gunpoint, but of the Mercury Prize - while the latter is a call to stay hopeful even when life deals you a rough hand. ‘Right Here’ samples the Fatboy Slim track’s famed use of Angela Bassett’s voice, spitting dextrous bars (“Do my locks make you nervous? Good you deserve it / Appetite for chaos, I Venus serve it”) before landing firmly in the (right) here and now; recent single ‘Makes Me Violent’ is a Seattle grunge-indebted discussion of situation-based depression that still decides on a path of “no violence”, while the comparatively vitriolic ‘Ring The Alarm’ - a mix of gnarly riffs and drum and bass beats - hits harder following such a journey in dynamics. “I see Lucifer on earth / Dressed up like the London Met,” sneers Bobby.

The record ends with the victorious thrash of ‘Still Here’: “They’ll never take me alive / I survived, I survived, I survived”. Though it’s still a firm middle finger up to the forces trying to keep Bob Vylan, and the Black and working class populations that they fight for, down, it’s also one shouted gleefully from the top of the podium. Bob Vylan still have a lot to be furious about, but ‘Humble As The Sun’ is a winning exercise in shifting focus; after all, as the old saying goes, the best revenge is living well.

Tags: Bob Vylan, Reviews, Album Reviews

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