By: Jerrica Zabala, SFU Student
Young Fathers is back from a four-year hiatus and their style is as avant-garde as ever. The well-anticipated album, Heavy Heavy, has listeners captivated by the band’s euphoric electro-gospel. But not even that category does their music production justice. Alloysious Massaquoi, Kayus Bankole, and “G” Hastings furnish their recordings with hue and cries, unpredictability, and symbolism through their peculiar beats and lyrics. I find it hard to compare this record to anything mainstream or categorize their genre.
Starting off the album, in “Rice,” the singer acknowledges their power and reach within their community with lyrics like, “These hands / can heal / clean hands / can heal.” Metaphors of “coming around a bend” and being “caught in the light” depict overcoming the woes that cling to our identities. This sets up the cataclysmic themes for the following tracks. Fun fact: If you have played the new FIFA 23 recently, you’ll notice this song is on their official soundtrack.
“I Saw” and “Drum” are the scorchers of the album. Even with the dissonance heard in these tracks, bittersweetness is felt, with the lyrics, “Buried in between justice / Holier than thou / I saw what I saw / I keep walking on the line.” The song takes on the point of view of a person aware of the disparities embedded in their surroundings but chooses to stay silent in order to live peacefully. This artistry can be a reflection of life’s current political and socio-economic tribulations around the world. In “Drum,” Kayus Bankole pays tribute to his mother tongue, Yoruba, expressing himself in spiritual and cultural ways that English can’t. Close your eyes. Listen to how each rhythm speeds up, slows down, and see if your pulse syncs up.
Got enough to think about as it is? Skip over to tracks “Ululation” and “Sink or Swim.” The light piano melodies, upbeat claps, South African chanting, and instrument layering offers a sense of optimism and sanguineness to light up sorrows. It brings a feeling of relief from the competing thrashes of noise and brooding meanings as the album climaxes.
This album tells the stories of adversity and the contrasts between light and dark. Heavy Heavy carries on stories from past records containing a rich history of the band’s upbringing. As always, Young Fathers’ genre non-conformity welcomes all kinds of musical tastes.