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Album Review // SAM FENDER ‘Hypersonic Missiles’

The debut album from Sam Fender is finally here, and it’s everything we could dream of and more.

Sam Fender album 2019

North Shields’ Sam Fender has been making quite a name for himself in the past year, selling out shows across the country and winning the BRITs Critics’ Choice award with only one EP and a handful of singles under his name. But it’s easy to see why so many have fallen for Sam and are singing his praises already – he’s unafraid to make music that challenges, turns against the norm and tackles headfirst the grappling questions of today. In an age where the youth are growing increasingly disillusioned and disconnected, and everyone appears to be afraid of questioning the things that matter, Sam provides a resounding voice against meekly accepting things as they are presented. With this refreshing outlook and armed with his guitar, Sam’s debut album is one that brings a much needed honesty to the music scene.

From the get-go, it’s clear that this is an album full of intent and zeal as Hypersonic Missiles makes a statement of the opening. Hitting hard and holding nothing back with lyrics such as ‘Kids in Gaza are bombed and I’m just out of it’, the anthemic roar of the guitars builds to the blistering intensity of the track while the feature of saxophones brings a sense of grandiose to what could easily have been a morbid and heavy track. The Borders does a similar thing, elevating a dark topic on broken families into a driving track with infectious rhythms and soaring vocals that betray nothing of the darkness.

One can easily imagine a campfire singalong to White Privilege with its looping melody and simplistic guitar accompaniment, yet the lyricism makes this so much more than just a menial song to sing with your mates. Biting and full of scathing anger, this is a restrained battle cry against political agendas and social media for their effects that have directly impacted Sam and his generation – ‘my generation was duped, the youth were left out the loop’. His acuteness towards these topics surely marks Sam out as a rare talent, and his ability to transpire them into such captivating music is certainly one of the things that make his debut album so successful. Rearing back for a bit more introspective focus in You’re Not The Only One, Sam’s tender vocals will strike a chord within the hearts of listeners as it shines through light percussion and flittering guitars, before building to a climax of saxophones and rolling toms.

Channelling a more sleazy rock vibe for Saturday, it’s a glorious guitar jam that shows the formula of crooning vocals and sweltering guitars is still as foolproof as ever, and you won’t be able to resist getting down for a boogie along. The dance vibes continue with the endearing Will We Talk? as tinkering bells create a certain magic around the track, but before you get too carried away with the instrumentals, the track’s subject of one night stands will bring you back down to reality. Bringing out just an acoustic guitar for Two People, it sheds light upon a softer side of Sam’s sound spectrum, but the effect that it leaves with the listener is still as resounding as his raucous rock tunes.

There really is no way to write a review of Sam’s debut album that will do him justice; it is simply too good. So do yourself a favour, sit down and put the record on repeat because one simply cannot comprehend the full genius of it in one sitting. It would not be a stretch to compare Sam to a siren; his vocals demand your full attention, and the words he sings command you to sit up and listen, yet he’s a siren that we will gladly listen to as he continues to unpick the social occurrences that happen all around us. Long may Sam continue to sell out shows and create music that speaks for the masses.