If lyrics were the passengers in a parade, the songs would certainly be the vehicles …
photo by Andrew Maso
Scottish group Young Fathers draws plenty of comparisons to TV on the Radio, and it’s easy enough to understand why. They play a soulful mix of rhythmic electronic-tinged rock ‘n’ roll. The band is made up of some white guys and some black guys. But the similarities stop relatively quickly, especially if you get past “Get Up,” the standout track from their Mercury Prize-winning debut, Dead.
Young Fathers are much rawer than much of the music to which they’re routinely compared. There is yelping and screaming and shouting just as much as there is soulful crooning, or intricate harmonies. Their live show often feels like a barely-held-together improvisation. The band has stated its ambitions to be mainstream, to be stadium-big, but they’ve so far made few, if any, capitulations toward a more radio-friendly sound. Indeed, they seem intent on not exactly having a sound. Are they a rap group or a rock ‘n’ roll band? They seem to be both and, just as often, not exactly either. They are also not afraid to stir the political pot, as their most recent album, 2015’s White Men Are Black Men Too, not so shyly exhibited.
In the U.K. they regularly play to large crowds, but U.K. rap has always had a hard time crossing the pond, and they’re playing the relatively small Holocene this Thursday. They put on a fiery, energetic show and tickets are still available. With their ambition and talent, they likely won’t be playing small rooms much longer.