Young Fathers have a sound that is hard to define. People flippantly call them a ‘rap group’, but really, there is very little rapping in comparison to their contemporaries; they sing airy but sugary-sweet melodies over interchangeably raucous and mellow lo-fi beats. They make labelling their sound no easier in their latest album Cocoa Sugar, a release with a lot to follow: two brilliant mixtapes, a Mercury Prize winning album (Dead) and prominent featuring on the soundtrack of T2, a sequel to the film most associated with their home-town of Edinburgh.
The first single ‘Lord’ is a slow and introspective tune lead by melancholic lyrics with an appropriately similar melody. The repetitive piano arpeggio is frequently overshadowed in an interesting way by an invasive and fuzzy synth-bass that keeps the listener on edge during what would otherwise be a simple and radio-friendly ballad. In ‘Lord’ the trio have managed to combine lo-fi and experimental sonic aesthetics with beautifully emotional balladry in a way that is boundary pushing. The tag-line asserted with the release of the single – “Here is a song, a song called LORD. You can’t dance to it”- stands as entirely accurate.
‘In My View’, the second single off the album holds itself as the most accessible track without sacrificing any of the integrity found on the rest of the project. The second half of the track loses any type of differentiation between choruses and verses as each and every vocal part finds itself floating above and dancing with others in an entrancing and disorienting display of intelligent vocal arrangement.
‘Holy Ghost’ presents a quirky beat over which the band shares some of the best verses of the album, while in ‘Toy’ anger is forefront as they combat their enemies by labelling them as “broken toys” and “silly little boys”, albeit served in one of the least exciting hooks the band has ever released.
Young Fathers have done little to change between releases, but this arguably a good thing. Their sound remains undefinable and singular to them, and they have simply pushed the same sound further in another solid release.