When the largely anonymous UK collective Sault released Untitled (Black Is) in June 2020, it arrived on the heels of global unrest spawned, this time, by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. That album spoke to the profound grief and rage that so many Black people (and their allies) felt, offering a lifeline and a balm at the perfect moment. Untitled (Rise) comes three months later, celebratory in its spirit and poetic in its motion—the fresh air inhaled after a summer of drowning. Soulful disco and buoyant funk inform the album from the outset. “Strong,” complete with regal marching band flourishes, beckons to listeners to get up and move: “We're moving forward tonight,” a vocalist commands in the early seconds of the opener. “We won't back down tonight.”
What follows is a monument to resilience and Black people's ability to conjure joy under any circumstances, and the songs keep the freedom of the dance floor (or the square) in their center. “I Just Want to Dance” is an intoxicating collage of percussion, while the loose groove of “Fearless” and the kineticism of “Street Fighter” keep up the energy. Elsewhere, “Son Shine,” with its affecting gospel choral arrangements, connects spiritual history with the present, a reminder that so much of this magic has long been intertwined with the sacred: “Let the son shine through my pain, so we will rise.” Towards the back, the tempo slows into the meditative, strings replace the much of the percussion, and the spaces between lyrics become more prominent leading into “The Black & Gold,” a solemn instrumental that evokes peace or rest. The final track offers one last thematic tie: the pain but also the divinity, a guilty world and the preservation of innocence. At its core, Untitled (Rise) is about duality and holding multiple truths in a single heart; it asks and extends levity while ensuring, also, that we do not forget.