feature: young fathers changes the game on their debut album ‘dead’. #soundcheck

March 21, 2014

Every once in a while you hear something so fresh, it sounds like it has no precedent. That’s the case with the debut from the much-buzzed-about Young Fathers. The Edinborough trio’s sound may appear to be like nothing else, but in reality it’s the sound of everything else. Hip-hop, indie rock, pop, alt folk, West African chants, reggae, and just about anything else you can name manifests on the brilliant DEAD.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

The opening “No Way” builds from an old accordion to a hard but minimal beat. Alloysiuous Massaquoi kicks things off with a perfect and suitably minimal statement about the conflict of being a Liberian immigrant in Scotland. “We feeling Presbyterian / But inside we’re still Liberian.” Scottish indie bands, particularly the invincible Frightened Rabbit, have become known lately for deceptively simple lyrics with seemingly unlimited poetic depth. The almost joyous chant that closes “No Way” paints a thousand pictures in 7 words. “AK-47 take my brethren straight to heaven.”

That obsession with death haunts the entire album. Standout track “War” views the world through a lens of death and conflict. “Dead ringers / Zombie singers / Coughing in the coffin / Reborn a new beginner” It’s fitting that the poppiest song, “Get Up” is chock full of wilting, out of tune synths. Young Fathers can’t sit still on a simple dance beat without withering it a little. The trio of Alloysiuous Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole, and G Hastings haven’t a sound that didn’t need to be left out in the sun a while. But within their warped vinyl collection, there’s so much sonic diversity. The Afro-Cuban drumming of “MMMH MMMH” cuts jarringly, but brilliantly against the minimal ambient electronica. Then on “Hangman,” the band finds the fine line between a funeral procession and celebratory chant, before closing the whole thing out with a goddamn autoharp. The only thing that sucks about DEAD is that practically no-one else is making music this bold right now.