Young Fathers
Cocoa Sugar


2.5
average

Review

by Finn Baker USER (36 Reviews)
March 23rd, 2018 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Do we agree on everything we discuss?"

If asked, I could say a lot of individual things about Cocoa Sugar, the third studio album from Scottish trio Young Fathers. The problem arises while thinking about how to arrange my words effectively. The entire project is an amalgamation of different styles clashing together, some fusing properly, others crumbling on impact. It becomes difficult to discuss the album in a way that critiques one element and easily flows to an appraisal of the next, since everything happens at once. That could absolutely be considered a testament, a positive one, that declares how unique the album is. Pinpointing certain influences that make up the majority of Young Fathers' sound is futile, as it is all compressed into a homogenized unit and becomes truly unique. In the same breath, these terms could be used to describe the album negatively. Too many sounds are occurring, and the possible beauty of each individual layer is shrouded by the next. I can go either way.

You don't have to take my word for it, though. In an interview with The Scotsman, Young Fathers reveal that it's easy to cause rifts of tension between members of the band. "We’re a band that probably should have split up over creative differences ten years ago," says Graham Hastings, one of three members who can end up taking any role he needs to have. "But you batter through it, that’s what makes this band what it is.” This makes a lot of sense, since Cocoa Sugar can and will painfully shift from an industrial-tinged hip hop beat (Turn) to a somber piano tune with passionate singing (Lord) to please a different crowd. In fact, that piano tune can have the same makings as some of the other hip hop songs.

Occasionally, these attempted blends that reach across the wide spectrum of musical genres do work well. A personal favorite is Border Girl, which seems to feature some sampled beatboxing and background gang vocals that strangely fit with the rest of the song. Other times, it sounds clumsy. Fee Fi is a track that will traverse anywhere it wants, utilizing an eerie nature to fit some tantalizing lyrics. Its intro has what sounds like all three members of Young Fathers singing a passage haphazardly. One voice attempts to carry the rhythm while the other two will jump in behind it from time to time. Fee Fi's instrumental refuses to shift in order to honor the changing vocal styles, so it adds to a confused nature.

Again, it is troublesome to try and tackle whatever Cocoa Sugar has to offer in the way of an overarching theme. If anything, there were multiple stories written that were, at one point, meant to be used as a whole concept. Little pieces were then taken and applied to individual songs. Another portion of that Scotsman review makes that somewhat less surprising--Hastings points out that the band's most powerful crutch "is to stick to one thing." He goes on to refer to the album cover, ergo the album itself, as "an imperfect beauty." I cannot deny how fetching some of the sound design is in sections of the album, and when lyrics do become prominent, they're undeniably catchy. Too much deviation and overpowering sounds become a very noticeable problem, though. It accidentally reveals the compromises made in nearly every song, sounding more engineered and tweaked than necessary, and less like a human every time.



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user ratings (85)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
rabidfish
March 22nd 2018


3657 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

you talk here like every conflicting style 'clashes' violently with the next. That's more dynamic at least.



What i hear on here is plain, dull, bland, grey, bleh, meh, whatever... I rather have conflict, stress, something to look at, even if it's unfinished, rough or downright ugly than this snooze fest.

Digging: The Do - A Mouthful

IcelandRevel
March 22nd 2018


844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm assuming you're the neg. This was a hard review to write, mainly because I find it difficult to wrap my head around the album and its many styles. I'll see what I can do to improve this.

TheMrAlexK
March 22nd 2018


9982 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nothing I've heard from them is bad exactly, but they fail to make like any kind of impression at all.

jtswope
March 22nd 2018


5784 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah this was pretty underwhelming imo. There are some interesting ideas here, just none that strike me personally. In My View is decent though.

P0laris
March 22nd 2018


348 Comments


What the hell is with the neg? This is well written from top to bottom. Have a pos

Digging: Death Grips - Year of the Snitch

Papa Universe
March 23rd 2018


16006 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, pretty much a let down for me too.

young faPOS

Digging: Petrojvic Blasting Company - Over the Garden Wall

rabidfish
March 23rd 2018


3657 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

not the neg lol



probably a butthurt BITCH

polyrhythm
March 23rd 2018


1923 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I rated all of their releases up to this point as 4.5s. Quite the drop off

laughingman22
March 23rd 2018


2793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The in my view single ruled. I’m kinda sad to see that the album might be a disappointment.

Yep321
March 23rd 2018


182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's not

IcelandRevel
March 23rd 2018


844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

In My View sounds like many other tracks on the album. If you like it, you'll probably like the album.

JesusCage
March 26th 2018


244 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

it may not be a massive disappointment, but it's not that great either.

'In my view' rules tho.



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