Young Fathers are an Edinburgh based hip-hop and R&B trio with Liberian, Nigerian and Scottish backgrounds who released their first two brilliant EPs to critical acclaim increasing the hype for their debut album. These first EPs were rife with what made them excellently unique – afrobeat and reggae rhythms, echoey R&B singing and in all, creativity. These components have been mostly been carried over onto Dead, fortunately.
The only problems I found with ‘Tape One’ and ‘Two’ was their shortness, and Young Fathers attempts to alleviate this on Dead, but this however results in another problem: songs grow repetitive and stale. Repeating rhythms and often lacklustre melodies lead to an album that feels as if it trudges on longer than its 35 minute run time. Although there are catchy moments (the pop chorus of ‘Low’, for example), it feels as if this is only due to the songs’ repetitiveness wherein there is little contrast between chorus and verse.
Lyrically however, the album holds its own. Social and political commentary is often at the foreground and the members even draw on their backgrounds for inspiration, referencing the calabash fruit and African village mentality. This idea of drawing on nationality is also prominent in the beats. Scottish-born ‘G’ Hastings often incorporates bagpipe-like drones and military drums into the music, evoking a dark feel in the party atmosphere – reflected in the title and cover. Hasting also employs dancey, tribal beats, regularly using lo-fi keyboard and almost shoegaze-like bass lines to create the brooding, ominous feel of the record, but again, he rarely mixes up the beats.
And so, although it pains me to admit it, Young Fathers have underwhelmed with their debut LP after the release of two stellar EPs. But alas, I am optimistic for their future insofar as they continue to progress and mature.