Monday, November 23, 2015

Young Fathers - White Men Are Black Men Too

While refining my list of notable albums for end of the year awards, I discovered that one of the albums in my likely top 20 list had not been featured.  I suspect the reason is that I received my copy while recovering from an accident, but I nevertheless feel that the omission should be corrected, so here it the belated feature for White Men Are Black Men Too, by Young Fathers.

With a wide scope concept of pop music, versatile compositions, tons of ability and an insistence on delivering their art on their own terms Young Fathers are, in my opinion, one of the more exciting bands indie music.  Previously, the Edinburgh trio released two EPs (Tape One and Tape Two) and an LP, Dead, which won the Mercury Prize.  White Men Are Black Men Too finds the band continuing to tighten their musical expression while testing boundaries, both musical and thematic.  The lyrics are clear-eyed and direct.  The breadth of possible musical cousins, if not influences, such as TV On The Radio, Arcade Fire, Dirigible Planets, R&B and neo-soul illustrate why Young Fathers confound those who would put them in a genre box and try to explain their music from a single perspective.  It seems to me that all one can do is let the music wash over you and tell the world what you hear.

And what you hear are strong pop melodies, aggressive bass and percussion and plenty of frills filling in at the higher register.  Each song is like unwrapping a present, unraveling at its own pace and in its own unique way.  As a whole, it is a big sound born of big ambition teamed with breathtaking talent.  The best pop music is made by having something to say, and then saying it well.  Based on this album, Young Fathers are near the head of the class in pop music.

For those unfamiliar with the band, they call themselves Young Fathers because each of them is named after his father.  Based in Edinburgh, Graham 'G' Hastings was born in that city, while Alloysious Massaquoi is from Liberia via Ghana, and Kayus Bankole grew up in the United States, but his parents were from Nigerian.


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