Young Fathers - Tape Two
Textured and intriguing album from Edinburgh hip hop group who have come of age at last
As if their breakthrough release of Tape One earlier this year on groundbreaking Los Angeles intelligent hip hop label Anticon wasn’t vindication enough of the promise that Edinburgh trio Young Fathers have been putting in the bank for some years now, this equally worthy follow-up less than six months later is a strong demonstration of their ability to turn out good tracks rapidly. It sounds utterly of the moment, not least the opener ‘I Heard’, which grooves in on a hesitant beat and a smooth soul vocal, and soon erupts into a rush of chillwave effects and the memorable repeated crescendo ‘inside I’m feeling dirty’.
‘Come to Life’ is surely one of the most radio-friendly songs they have at the moment - need for a couple of beeps notwithstanding - a sleek, thumping slice of electro-soul of the kind Kele Okereke was making before Bloc Party got back together, while ‘Only Child’ strides in on the admission that ‘I find it hard to be an honest man’, referencing Maggie Thatcher, the nanny state and the money markets on its way. ‘Queen is Dead’ is more abstract and splenetic lyrically, a buzzing cut-up of fragmentary state of the nation rant which climaxes with an appeal for ‘money money money, cash for gold.’
The album diverts into well-wrought but largely vocal free soundtrack territory with ‘Bones’ and ‘Freefalling’ both impressive indicators of the trio’s ability as producers, while ‘Mr Martyr’ is a relatively old-fashioned downbeat hip hop jam which rings with the sense of newfound maturity which has pervaded all of their work this year. There’s an amusing touch to the impressively downbeat ‘Way Down in the Hole’ as it begins on a wrong-footing intro that’s so pop all it needs is an autotuned vocal, while the closing ‘Ebony Sky’ is a measured anthem. It’s another textured and immediately intriguing track from a group who have come of age at last.