On immediate listen to the Scottish trio’s new LP, it is clear that Young Fathers have adopted a far brighter and more positive viewpoint on this record. Something which is instantly obvious with album opener ‘Still Running’, as overlapped verses are underlaid by twinkling keyboards and the undeniably affirmative repetition of “still running” radiates pure optimism. After eight minutes, you’re convinced Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings have left their murky undertones behind.
Notoriously difficult to pigeon-hole Young Fathers, venture through a variety of genres and sounds on White Men Are Black Men Too; ranging from the blues gospel featured on ‘Rain Or Shine’ to the realms of Motown which are distinctive on ‘Nest’ - a joyous upbeat number with smooth R’n’B melodies. ‘John Doe’ and ‘Get Started’ offer up a distorted style of the old school tainted with cackles of laughter, husky rap bars and off-key piano playing. This cocktail of sounds and genres prove that Young Fathers are more than just a alt-hip hop outfit and more than your standard hard-to-define broadsheet sweethearts.
White Men Are Black Men Too is an album which chronicles the dark, as much as it does the light. The title draws attention to the ideas we have about race. Question that are played out explicitly on ’Old Rock N Roll’- “I’m tired of wearing this hallmark for some evils which happened way back”/ “I’m tired of blaming the white man, his indiscretions will betray him”. The powerful lyricism and vocal convulsions, evokes an exorcism of all these controversial unsaid thoughts, as poignant yelps reminiscent of Otis Redding ring out. Meanwhile, ‘Dare Me’ exhibits what Young Fathers do best. Displaying the group’s skilful harmonisation as a unit and their ability to switch into brash twisted rap, from plaintive hymnal sections. They still manage to showcase the raw freshness of Mercury-winning DEAD. In addition, the composition of this standout track also echoes the disillusionment of young people in the UK whose views are hampered by a distant ruling class. This feeling of being silenced is brought to life when the final word of the track is sliced off.
White Men Are Black Men Too is a thought-provoking follow-up which allows plenty of room for discussion and debate. As the album title suggests, Young Fathers are charged by the topics at hand but they aren’t presenting a finished manifesto. Pushing their creative boundaries and taking some large strides forward on this LP. This is them opening the conversation- more of a call for a forum than the establishment of a new world order.
Words: Lois Browne