“A step into another plain” – A Review of Young Fathers’ Heavy Heavy

It’s finally time to talk about one of my favorite albums of 2023. Heavy Heavy is the 6th album from UK experimental hip-hop group, Young Fathers. Released February 3rd, 2023, the Mercury Prize winning trio melds vast landscapes of ethereal plains with charged and jittery afro-beats on Heavy Heavy. The textures and production on these tracks are utterly unique, unlike anything else you’ll get your hands on this year. Young Fathers are one of a kind and continue to amaze with their newest release, Heavy Heavy.

Let’s run through the tracks.

“Rice” instantly washes over us with a breeze that feels fresh. Its bass lines slide down the side of the track, while a singsong delivery backed by sharp static and a swinging chorus carries us forward. It’s a wonderful opening to what will unfold as a diverse listening experience. As we reach the climax of this track, a screech of white noise floods our ears (in a fashion similar to “Licking An Orchid” by Yves Tumor [Eev-Tumor]).

“I Saw” brings that singsong delivery back in full swing, dashing forward at a speed that only feeds into its momentum. “I keep on walking (ey), I keep on walking.” The voices are coated in static which gives a higher power to the words they speak. This album is chalked full of personal mantras that take the form of lyrics- making this a very inspirational and empowering listen.

Next, we are thrown into a sea of produced percussion on “Drum,” where we hear the words,

“Hear the beat of the drums and go numb
Have fun, go on
We don’t need all the ones to have one
So have one, someone”

As “Drum” vaults forward, we hear a flurry of new flows before the track bounces back into the chorus. Bellowing choirs shout as the drums intensify into a thrilling final blast.

“Tell Somebody” brings Heavy Heavy to new heights. While moving through ethereal spaces, Young Fathers bring the listener to an incredibly emotional place, urging us to call upon one another. The chorus blows me away every time I hear it.

“Geronimo” paces forward with a slight pulse, “Breathe in like a lion / Breathe out like a lamb.” As we break into the chorus we hear a voice sing “Geronimo” in a heavenly air. While it builds, the atmosphere becomes blissful, painted by shimmering synths and more voices. This song balances the feelings of freedom and binds, infusing us with a sense of strength through its triumphant and carefree chorus. 

“Shoot Me Down” creates an awesome intro through the manipulation of a few samples, like something we’d hear off Donuts. Calming synths carry it from there into the angelic voices of Young Fathers. As we march forward, Young Fathers capture into words the freeing feelings of the heart, “She placed a kiss upon my temple and blew them thoughts away.” 

“Ululation” is a perfectly fitting name for this track 7. As a voice calls out to us, it snatches us into the song from its very first seconds. Adorned in ornate piano melodies, the beat keeps moving along to these free-spirited chants and yelps pop out from the background. It’s a very lively listen.

“Sink Or Swim” places the listener in the modern world with all its complications and challenges. There are some poignant points made in the form of the following lyrics. 

“There’s things I wanna do but the world ain’t fair (la-di-da-di-da)”
There’s thing I must do, but I don’t really care (la-di-da-di-da)”

As the song continues, we hear the repeated line, “You either sink or swim or do nothing.” Jubilant clapping encircles us and keeps a joyous movement alive throughout the track. The chanting grows into an uproar before finally quieting down in its closing moments.

“Holy Moly” is a swift display of Young Father’s ability to entwine storytelling with a unique and catchy chorus. Growing from a low growling bassline, we learn our place in the story from the opening lines. Suddenly the pacing changes and a euphoric voice sings out “Holy moly! You better take your chance, I’m here for one night only- no procrastinating.” It’s a song about the moment.

As we reach the divine chorus, the world spins in our ears. We’ve gotten caught in the moment and everything makes sense for a second. We hear a voice sing, “Let’s go beyond the edge to another plain.”

“Be Your Lady” is a gorgeous ballad about the price of love. What begins with a cry out for love is followed by introspection before finally, BOOM. The track explodes into action with a crunched crash cymbal. Next, the song gets picked up by a new melody and we’re off- It makes me want to leap around while listening. It’s emblematic of all the transformations that take place on the album. As we reach the end, we hear a cacophony of shouting over each other, “Can I take 10 pounds worth of love out of the bank?” They repeat, swirling into a vortex of voices that represents us all. The album comes to a close with the resolution of a single piano note.

Altogether this piece of music has stuck with me for longer than almost any other 2023 release. I’ve had revolving favorites from “Tell Somebody” to “Holy Moly” to “Be Your Lady” and finally “Rice.” The diversity displayed in this album shows another step forward, “into another plain” from experimental Scottish artists, Young Fathers. With production highs that rival Yeezus, this album illustrates the many faces and phases of life, transporting us to wonderful worlds of splintering static and echoing conscience. Its vulnerable songwriting allows us to experience a myriad of emotions in its half-hour run time. Heavy Heavy also provides some beautiful wisdom on the worlds of love and desire that are likely to stick with listeners long after the music dies down. I highly recommend giving this underrated 2023 gem a listen. Bravo, Young Fathers.


Stream Heavy Heavy via Spotify and Apple Music.

Thank you to Madeline Byrnside AKA Mirror Kissers for the graphics at the beginning and end of the review!

Don’t miss your chance to catch Young Fathers live next year!

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