Review Summary: File under Rock and Pop
Don't mention the M-word prize, because Young Fathers took that in a stride they made several steps ago. It probably makes more sense to say 'leaps ago'. Young Fathers are not out to stand on a stage and preach, they're out to entertain, and according to their stage presence entertainment means jumping: lots and lots of jumping. A glitzy industry award never changed that.
The group's directive to change pop music from within sees them switch out hip-hop clichés for something easier to believe in. Aggression is passed over for excitement; thug life for metaphor; rap for what has helpfully been described as “rap-but-not-rap” - much to the confusion of mainstream broadcasters who, despite the critical furore, thought the general public too delicate to handle such a departure from the norm. An M-word trophy might collect dust in one of their mums' cupboards, but Young Fathers are back to making music from the fringes.
All the better for us, because White Men are Black Men Too
– I mean, what a title! - returns to the anti-genre twilight zone of last year's Dead
. Keeping to the sub 40 minute mark, Young Fathers dab at the now familiar palette of swollen bass backdrops, ritualistic percussion and vocal chants to make a more celebratory version of what we've heard before. "Liberated" glistens with enough optimism to fill a sportswear hype advert, while "Shame" feeds from the off-kilter energy supplied by those characteristic vintage EMS synth stabs. The group indulge in some slightly uncomfortable boy-band crones when the album clicks round to "27", but tear the song from the jaws of skip-inducing doom as soon as they reach the lines "27/ a night in heaven/ killed a man with my bare hands".
The album won't win many new fans, but for those already clued in it supplies a fresh batch of engaging, abstract production and, especially in the meat of "Old Rock n Roll", a few meals' worth of food for thought. With an album title like White Men are Black Men Too
it shouldn't be a surprise to hear them get stuck in to controversial material at some point.