Up to 37% in savings when you subscribe to hi-fi+

Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.


Heavy Heavy

Young Fathers
Album Review: Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy
  • Music
  • Sonics
  • A
  • A
  • A

Where do you go next when your debut album wins the prestigious Mercury Prize? Not that winning the Mercury first time of asking is a rarity, looking back through past winners it seems to almost be the norm with the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Artic Monkeys and Dave all winning with the first full-length releases, while last year’s win for Little Simz’s fourth album bucked this trend and was rather tardy by comparison. But still, the question remains: where do you go next when your debut album wins the prestigious Mercury Prize?

In the case of Young Fathers, the answer was to decamp from their native Edinburgh and move to Berlin, switch record labels and record the excellent, but less successful, White Men Are Black Men Too. The equally good Cocoa Sugar followed in 2018, and saw Young Fathers return to the top of some of the more cutting-edge ‘album of the year’ lists. It was also their biggest chart success in the UK. 

That was five years ago; before the Pandemic. And now it is 2023. The trio may have switched labels a few times, but Heavy Heavy is their second outing on the legendary Ninja Tune, which is also the current home of the likes of Sampa The Great and Kae Tempest. It’s a label that seems to suit Young Fathers and their eclectic style, which fuses elements of American Hip-Hop, electronic chicanery, and the noisier, more experimental end of the Pop spectrum. 

Start listening to Heavy Heavy and before you know quite what’s going on you are four tracks in. Not that the album starts slow, quite the opposite in fact, because the opener ‘Rice’ is an absolute banger and the following ‘I Saw’ has all the multi-layered swagger we’ve come to expect from Young Fathers over the last decade. 

It speeds by because this is a Formula 1 race car of an album, and things are moving at a frenetic pace throughout. With 10 tacks spanning just 33 minutes, the three-piece have stuck to the tried-and-tested cliché of the three-minute pop song. Thankfully this is one of those clichés that exist because they are true – three minutes is the ideal length for a slice of pop music.

‘Geronimo’ and ‘Shoot Me Down’ slow proceedings down a little in the middle, both featuring rich bass lines and breathy vocals, before the fantastic ‘Ululation’ gets the party started again. But ‘Holy Moly’ is the stand-put track for me, the final moment of jubilation before the lower key ending of ‘Be Your Lady’. It’s dark, rapid-fire beat is the perfect partner for both the rather menacing vocal delivery on the verses and the more upbeat chorus. 

As you can tell, Heavy Heavy is an album full of light and shade, and one that we can imagine translating well to the band’s raucous live shows, with plenty of singalong hooks and the kind of call-and-response moments that their audience will go mad for.

We’d go as far as saying that this is Young Father’s best album yet. Perhaps the elongated gestation period did them a favour, allowing them to hone the tracks more precisely than previous offerings. Whatever the reason, we are thankful for it, and it bodes well for the future. 

Finally, this is another album with multiple vinyl versions available out there – looking at Rough Trade revealed five different versions on LP! However, all of them are 140g vinyl, with only a change of colour between black and white marking any differences to the physical product – the other variations are to do with covers and fold-out posters. Personally, I would add a full-on 180g pressing in black vinyl. But perhaps I’m showing my age here, because as is often the way nowadays, there’s also a cassette offering to sit alongside the LP and CD versions. It’s ironic that the format that was pillaried by the music business for its negative impact on sales (“Home Taping Is Killing Music”) is now the format of choice to avoid the endless and easy duplication of digital music files. Regardless of format though, Heavy Heavy is perfect for the truly hip. 

Back to Music


Adblocker Detected

"Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit..."

"There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain..."