Album Review: Sam Fender - Hypersonic MissilesSam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles Tracklist
01. Hypersonic Missiles / 02. The Borders / 03. White Privilege / 04. Dead Boys / 05. You’re Not The Only One / 06. Play God /
07. That Sound / 08. Saturday / 09. Will We Talk? / 10. Two People / 11. Call Me Lover / 12. Leave Fast / 13. Use (live)
Released September 13th via Polydor Records
Swansea. Dubbed an an ugly, lovely town by Dylan Thomas, later better phrased as a pretty shitty city by cult Welsh film Twin Town, is where I've found myself living out most of my 29 years. Whilst not completely in the middle of nowhere (though, I'd rightfully disagree), when Sam Fender crossed my path in 2018 I found myself relating all too well to his small-town-syndrome music and vital need for an escape. That feeling of claustrophobia got dictated too perfectly through his disconsolate vocals and echoing guitar strings and I knew I'd be hooked. Fast-forward and he's gone from a name relatively unheard of to winning a BRITs Critics Choice award and making BBC's well renowned Sound of 2018 Longlist in an astonishingly short time, joining an alumni of big named artist's such as Adele, Florence & The Machine and Sam Smith.
As he unveils his debut album offering, lead single, and title track Hypersonic Missiles is as potent as its namesake would suggest. Having long taken a stab at the negativity in the world, building his angst in to a towering, stadium-read pop song, it comes as a much needed cathartic release. "This song started out when I saw the term ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ in a newspaper" he explains. "In many ways, Hypersonic Missiles is an unorthodox love song. Amongst all the chaos is love and celebration, there is this glimmer of hope that runs through the song, a little notion that no matter what happens, these two people are gonna have a fucking good time regardless of the tyrants that run their world, and regardless of the imminent doom from these ‘Hypersonic Missiles’". A statement I'm sure many of us could do good by taking on board.
Second track The Boarders, and possibly my favourite on the record, tells the tale of two friends growing up, falling out and then going their separate ways. His songwriting is so systematically perfect. The delivery is second to none as he cries out in despair through heavy emotion. Who'd have thought a song about regret and time's once spent could be so refined with such heartfelt energy. In the constrained White Privilege, he strips back on its instrumentation, just Sam's guitar and swelling, brutal lyricism to take forwards his deafening message. "Don't wanna hear about Brexit, them old cunts fucked up our exit. My generation was doomed, the youthful left out the loop. Lies on both sides of the fence left me completely bereft" he sings commandingly. It doesn't get any more hopeful from a topical sense on Dead Boys either, the delicate matter of male suicide so sensitively addressed. Not an easy subject to tackle, but one that must be talked about, Fender effortlessly delivers in poignant fashion and leaves us all with a lump in our throat.
Not one shy of a monstrous pop effort, You're Not The Only One is about as indulgent as they come with its sax outro. It's no secret Sam's hero is Bruce Springsteen and his influence flourishes here in infinite detail. Elsewhere Play God sets straight the indifferences of power as he dives in to a dystopian world, his observational, provoking and socially-charged lyrics carried over angular guitars and punchy melodies. It's the perfect set up for That Sound, a track that Sam's described as a song that "loosely talks about how susceptible you can become to negativity and jealousy, even when you’re at your happiest and most confident". It's essentially about sticking it to the man and doing whatever the hell you want to regardless
Just past its halfway point, Saturday swings in to action with its swanky melodies and polished percussion, dedicating its time to longing for the weekend as we drag ourselves through the mundane reality of weekday living. That's all before Will We Talk?'s euphoric and ambitious guitar line deals with the subject matter of one-night stands. Ironically, or rather in his marvellous fashion, the album's next track is entitled Two People. It's also the first real taste we get of Sam tracing back to his roots as he plays a softly plucked guitar telling a heartbreaking tale of domestic violence.
As the journey enters its final stage we get the provocative Call Me Lover, a track with a twist in its tale as the love itself comes not from trust but infidelity, before the penultimate effort, Leave Fast. This was the first track I ever heard by Sam and one that remains as close to me now as it did back then. Described as an archetypal song about growing up in a small town, and the frustrations that go with it, it's a song that I'm reminded of daily with my surroundings.
Whether it's his belted out, falsetto vocals sung in blissful harmony to their electrifying instrumentation, or the hushed tones and devastating wake-up calls he enlists in his music, Sam Fender has gripped the nation and has world at his feet. Few artists are as literate and socially aware as the 25-year old working class Newcastle musician. And this looks likely all that hard work is about to finally pay off.
Sam Fender's Hypersonic Missiles will be released Friday 13th September.