Wednesday 18 April 2018

Review of 'Cocoa Sugar' by Young Fathers

Eclectic Edinburgh experimentalists Young Fathers attempt to make music that’s more ‘normal’.

I still haven’t listened to Young Fathers’ 2014 Mercury-prize winning album Dead. You’d think someone who claims to be a music connoisseur would get their act together and listen to such a noteworthy album, but I’ve been too busy juggling the responsibilities of being a brain surgeon and astronaut on top of running this humble blog.

Anyhow, I wasn’t going to let this new album slip by me. The singles leading up to this release all sounded very different, so I had no clue what to expect – whilst ‘Lord’ seemed to be piano gospel interspersed with ominous bass blasts, ‘Toy’ was a mix of jittery synths and cartoonish hybrid rap-singing that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Gorillaz album. And this album, according to a Skinny interview, was supposed to be their attempt at ‘normal’ music?

The songs are normal only in the sense that they follow familiar verse-chorus-verse-chorus structures (for the most part) and rarely break the four minute mark. Other than that, they’re still making nutty genre-bending music. Whilst often described as a hip hop group, there’s little rapping or conventional beatsmithing to be found on Cocoa Sugar. Their sound is a cocktail of styles containing hints of indie, r&b and electronica. It’s streamlined in it’s poppy structuring, but similarly more diverse than ever in its palette of sounds.

Ally’s vocal delivery meanwhile is excitingly creative. He deliberately stammers the word ‘stammer’ on the purposely playful and fidgety track ‘Toy’, whilst letting tremolo effects distort the chorus of ‘Tremolo’. At times, the delivery brings a whole new meaning to lyrics, as on ‘Wow’ in which the uttering of ‘it’s so amazing’ is distinctly monotone as if mocking people’s growing boredom with the amazing world around them. Young Fathers tend to not shove their beliefs and opinions in your face – they prefer to leave things up to personal interpretation. It’s quite refreshing to hear a band that can be deep without feeling that they need to preach something.

All in all, there isn’t much to fault on Cocoa Sugar. Young Fathers have shown that they’re definitely one of the most orginal acts out there nowadays, and that original can still sound accessible.