Three members of Young Fathers stood against a concrete wall


In many ways, the Picky Bastards writers are on a never-ending quest to enforce their music tastes upon each other.

Do Believe The Hype continues this theme. It’s a series where one writer introduces a beloved artist to another who has yet to be convinced by their legend.

This time it’s 12 tracks from Young Fathers carefully selected by Fran Slater. James Spearing is the recipient, but will he be a happy customer or an unhappy victim?

To begin with I need to make it clear that this isn’t an intro to Young Fathers for me. I’ve listened to the albums several times, wishing and wanting to them to click with me. I think it’s partly raised expectations – I’d come to them through strong recommendations, and award wins, notably the 2014 Mercury. So I was ready to be wowed… but wasn’t. So here’s hoping that listening to them in a different way will pay off. Let’s see what the best of the best, according to Fran, will do for me.

The playlist is as follows:

‘Old Rock n Roll’
‘In My View’
‘Queen Is Dead’
‘Mr. Martyr’
‘Rain or Shine’
‘Border Girl’
‘Dare Me’

First I’ll consider the playlist overall. They’re Scottish but they try very hard to hide this. Take the opening to ‘Queen is Dead’. My immediate thought is they’ve brought in a guest rapper. On the other hand, and on the basis of this playlist, their sound really is unique. I can’t think of anyone else who sounds like them. I’ve heard them described as hip-hop but that doesn’t even begin to encompass everything they’re throwing at us here. Another stand out feature of the music for me is their use of repetition. But the results are mixed – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

There are three songs on the list (‘Toy’, ‘Border Girl’ and ‘In My View’) that I already know. And like. So that’s a good start. Let’s see if the rest can live up to them. And I’ve definitely listened to Cocoa Sugar at least once for Bastard related reasons, so it’s reasonably familiar. The Mercury winning album, Dead, only features with one song here. So I’ll have to listen to that one again afterwards to see why. Is this your selections tailored for my taste Fran?

So, on to more about the individual tracks.

For a self-proclaimed lyrics man Fran, it’s laughable that you’ve included a song that rhymes ‘seven’ with ‘heaven’ over and over. I don’t think I like ‘NO WAY’. ‘Shame’ starts well, then goes downhill. My next door neighbours are having their garage knocked down, so I had to pause the song to check if the annoying banging noises in the middle were meant to be there, or if they were the sound of bricks and concrete being smashed to pieces with some massive power tool. Sadly, they’re in the song. ‘Old Rock n Roll’ and ‘Queen is Dead’ have a similar noisy/irritating quality. The list hasn’t started well. Apart from ‘In My View’ that is. It feels like a bit of a cop out for me to lean on what I already know and like but this is a great song. The rhythmic vocals, the way it builds, the lyrics and the simple repeated hook are all getting a thumbs up from me. 

Into the second half of the playlist, and things pick up. I was wondering if it was something about their earlier stuff I wasn’t in to. ‘Mr Martyr’ shows a quieter side to Young Fathers that we’ve not heard in the list so far. The repetition is there, working well, and it’s far more melodic. The organ intro to ‘Rain or Shine’ reminds me of ‘The Look’ by Metronomy. I’m into it. Similarly, ‘Border Girl’ has me thinking of something that sounds alike, and this time it’s the band Jungle. You already knew I liked this one though. ‘Remains’ is the oldest song you’ve picked for me. So it’s interesting to see how they’ve progressed. I’d say this is the song that sees them most in the hip-hop box, yet you can already hear them expanding their sound beyond that. On to ‘Toy’ then, and I’ll be a hypocrite as I’ve already picked out an example of super basic rhyming – this time it’s ‘boy’ and ‘toy’, but I’m willing to forgive on this occasion. ‘Dare Me’ brings things to a close. It’s fine, if a bit all over the place.

Do I believe the hype? Yes and no. They’ve definitely got something and I’m really intrigued by their sound. There are some cracking tunes here, but also plenty that are simply too noisy for me. But I’m not going to give up. By the time this article is published, their new album will be out. Maybe it could be the one that convinces me?

Words by James Spearing

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