13 Songs, 48 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A few years before releasing this debut album, Sam Fender entered a period of personal turbulence that included being diagnosed with an illness serious enough to have him contemplating his mortality. “I wrote a lot of my best stuff in that place,” he tells Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “It was just a mad time in my life. Some crazy things happened when I was about 20. It changed my perspective on everything.” One decision he reached was to stop writing songs for the wider world and concentrate on music that simply connected with him. “It was purely a selfish thing. It didn’t matter if I ever played them to anybody. And then it worked! You spend a lot of time looking outwards, at everybody else, but you should stick to your guns, man.”

While he’s learned to trust his instinct, his lyrical focus has remained outwards. The people-watching and social conscience that ran through his early singles are expanded on Hypersonic Missiles, a chronicle of the everyday frustrations, dreams, and dramas of working-class towns such as the one he grew up in, North Shields, on England’s north-east coast. Prompted by the passing of a friend, “Dead Boys” examines male suicide and the reluctance in certain communities to talk about depression, while other subjects include abusive relationships, the patriarchy, one-night stands, and the politics of leaving a small town. The music moves between the title track’s full-blooded Springsteen-style rock, knottier indie (“Play God,” “That Sound”) and sparer folky moments (“Two People,” “Leave Fast”). Throughout, its urgency sits well with the emotionally charged lyrics. “You can hear the desperation in [‘Play God’],” he says. “I’d come out of this mad place, my producer was going to quit [music], I was going to quit. It came from a time where I needed to prove myself: ‘I need to do something that’s going to cut through.’ Half of the album comes from that time, and you can tell because they’re all ‘Ahhhhhh!’ on the moon, singing like it’s your last day on Earth.”

A potent transmitter of feeling, Fender’s voice often recalls Brandon Flowers’ emotive surges and the haunted delicacy of Jeff Buckley. Buckley has been an influence ever since Fender’s older brother handed him a copy of Grace when Sam was 14. It’s hard to miss on a debut that packages yearning, desperation, anger, and escape in twisting, brooding guitar music. “I remember being blown away by the sheer power and vulnerability in [Grace],” he says. “It’s rock music, but it’s not like that macho thing. I realized rock music could be delicate.”

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Apple Digital Master

EDITORS’ NOTES

A few years before releasing this debut album, Sam Fender entered a period of personal turbulence that included being diagnosed with an illness serious enough to have him contemplating his mortality. “I wrote a lot of my best stuff in that place,” he tells Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “It was just a mad time in my life. Some crazy things happened when I was about 20. It changed my perspective on everything.” One decision he reached was to stop writing songs for the wider world and concentrate on music that simply connected with him. “It was purely a selfish thing. It didn’t matter if I ever played them to anybody. And then it worked! You spend a lot of time looking outwards, at everybody else, but you should stick to your guns, man.”

While he’s learned to trust his instinct, his lyrical focus has remained outwards. The people-watching and social conscience that ran through his early singles are expanded on Hypersonic Missiles, a chronicle of the everyday frustrations, dreams, and dramas of working-class towns such as the one he grew up in, North Shields, on England’s north-east coast. Prompted by the passing of a friend, “Dead Boys” examines male suicide and the reluctance in certain communities to talk about depression, while other subjects include abusive relationships, the patriarchy, one-night stands, and the politics of leaving a small town. The music moves between the title track’s full-blooded Springsteen-style rock, knottier indie (“Play God,” “That Sound”) and sparer folky moments (“Two People,” “Leave Fast”). Throughout, its urgency sits well with the emotionally charged lyrics. “You can hear the desperation in [‘Play God’],” he says. “I’d come out of this mad place, my producer was going to quit [music], I was going to quit. It came from a time where I needed to prove myself: ‘I need to do something that’s going to cut through.’ Half of the album comes from that time, and you can tell because they’re all ‘Ahhhhhh!’ on the moon, singing like it’s your last day on Earth.”

A potent transmitter of feeling, Fender’s voice often recalls Brandon Flowers’ emotive surges and the haunted delicacy of Jeff Buckley. Buckley has been an influence ever since Fender’s older brother handed him a copy of Grace when Sam was 14. It’s hard to miss on a debut that packages yearning, desperation, anger, and escape in twisting, brooding guitar music. “I remember being blown away by the sheer power and vulnerability in [Grace],” he says. “It’s rock music, but it’s not like that macho thing. I realized rock music could be delicate.”

Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics. Mastered for iTunes
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Ratings and Reviews

4.0 out of 5
72 Ratings

72 Ratings

MusicSanity ,

Very Refreshing Sound!!

Finally music that is really Music! None of the auto-tuned voice-overs and electronic rubbish we’ve been inundated with over the last 10 yrs. Proof to this generation that you can make great music going back to basics! Lyrics also meaningful (Hypersonic Missiles). Strongly recommended!

Kenzo ,

That Sound

Great album I only wish iTunes hadn't screwed up my download. Bought Play God as a single and now it won't show up in the track list for the album. They really screwed up iTunes when they added their streaming service crap.

Real_raff ,

I want to like this but

I listened to the first couple of tracks and I started loving your sound, even the backstory to the music was beautiful. How you had a life threatening illness was impactful and I heard it in your voice. Then I saw “white privilege” and I thought he seems talented he’ll probably do something ironic, or try to show both sides of the situation. Googled the lyrics and I was really disappointed man. Whites aren’t like that (and I’m Latino), the world isn’t black and white, and it’s dangerous to be spreading that kind of ideology. Stick to your heart and soul, your passion is what’s going to attract people, not your politics...

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