Album Review: Sam Fender - 'Hypersonic Missiles'


Coming from humble beginnings in the outskirts of Newcastle, Sam Fender has gone from pulling pints to pulling guitar strings for a living with ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ being a powerful first album, with 48 minutes of catchy tunes with beautifully penned lyrics. Through his lyrics he explores many societal issues that often go unsung in mainstream music, including the negative impact of toxic masculinity on mental health (‘Dead Boys’), alongside politics and nuclear weapons (‘Hypersonic Missiles’). He gives listeners a refreshing new sound on the usual musical musings about partying and drinking and sex and all things in between; he explores them in such a way which resonates with the regular listener, making him an artist for the people. With sold-out shows across the country, everything seems to be coming up Fender. 

His album is refreshingly honest, stemming from his roots growing up in the north of England. With influences such as Bruce Springsteen, who also came from a working-class background, Fender has been surrounded all his life by artists that celebrate working class heritage. These influences, alongside his own independent flair of musical talent, have allowed Fender to create a beautifully balanced album full of catchy songs with killer riffs. 

He brings these hard issues in biteable pieces through his work, such as in his singles ‘The Borders’ and ‘Play God’. They make not only for brilliant songs to listen to but sends a message to his growing fanbase about the struggles people face through his mostly allegro-esque sounding tunes. With the popularity of the album set to increase his profile, Fender’s album is an important message that these issues shall not go unnoticed. 

‘The Borders’ hits an emotional chord within listeners, telling a story about a dissolving family struck with abuse and hardship. It is a song that captures the very essence of Fender’s writing capabilities; he becomes a story teller, and a very good one at that, with his deep and gravelly musings capturing the raw emotion of the single. His album is diverse, with Fender managing to wrap up all of these social injustices and tellings of troubling family dynamics into an album that is set to top the charts.  

Yet Fender’s album does have elements of slow and steady to it, with his acoustic number ‘Leave Fast’. His usually upbeat sound simmers down to a beautifully haunting melody, exploring life in a working-class neighbourhood; the slow-moving tune mimics the slow-moving life that he felt growing up. The song appeals to all generations, with lyrics like ‘an old man told me to leave fast or stay forever’, bringing to light the continuing issue of poverty faced in the northern parts of the country. This energy bleeds into ‘That Sound’. Back when the song was released on his previous EP, he told Radio 1: “This song talks loosely about how susceptible you can become to negativity and jealousy, even when you’re at your happiest and most confident. It’s about finding strength to ignore it all, and keep doing your own thing.” With lyrics like ‘my mind is always troubled with where have I been and where am I going’, it brings to light how an individual can get trapped by their surroundings, with Fender singing ‘they’re all waiting at the bottom tryna claw me down beneath it all’, with ‘that sound’ referring to the music that set him free, becoming a coping mechanism for dealing with all the hardship.  

‘Dead Boys’ encapsulates Fender’s impressive ability to weave a story into the lyrical composition of a song, making him such an amazing artist; he becomes a story teller for the lives lost in his hometown due to male suicide. The song has an element of mourning to it, with the lyrics ‘we close our eyes, learn our pain’ making for a very emotive listen. It is a beautiful song in memory of lives lost, combining his usual loud sound with a delicate undertone that strikes emotion in the listener and makes them realise to the full extent what he is singing about. The song has resonated with many people who listen to it, with one individual stopping their attempt to take their own life after hearing the song. Not only is suicide not widely explored in music, but the (now more talked about) issue of male suicide is represented in this song, making it a tune of great importance as it brings the subject to the attention of his growing fanbase. As well as representing male suicide, he sends out the message that suicidal thoughts and depression are not just limited to one race, class or gender with his lyrics ‘we all tussle with the black dog, some out loud and some in silence’, making an important statement to his growing fanbase that they are not alone if they feel this way.

Yet Fender’s song writing capability is one of the things that makes him such an amazing artist; it means that he can add depth to a seemingly depthless subject of one-night stands, with his exploration of the more emotional side to casual hook-ups in his popular single ‘Will We Talk?’. It is this added depth that draws people in – looking at the song list of the album, listeners can’t help but want to know what he has done with the subjects of the song titles. With his single ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, for example, you can’t help but wonder how he manages to turn a subject as sombre as bombing into a single that people want to listen to when they are after a song upbeat enough to get them out of bed. 

Words by Alice Mason

Sam Fender Live:
22nd November – Academy, Manchester SOLD OUT
23rd November – Guild of Students, Liverpool SOLD OUT
26th November – Rock City, Nottingham SOLD OUT
27th November – O2 Academy, Glasgow SOLD OUT
28th November – O2 Academy, Leeds SOLD OUT
30th November – Dome, Brighton SOLD OUT
1st December – O2 Academy, Bournemouth SOLD OUT
3rd December – Pavilions, Plymouth SOLD OUT
4th December – O2 Academy, Bristol SOLD OUT
5th December – O2 Academy, Birmingham SOLD OUT
7th December – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
8th December - O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
10th December – O2 Academy Brixton, London SOLD OUT
11th December - O2 Academy Brixton, London SOLD OUT
13th December – Great Hall, Cardiff SOLD OUT
16th December – Dublin, Olympia SOLD OUT
17th December – Ulster Hall, Belfast SOLD OUT
19th December – O2 Academy, Sheffield SOLD OUT
21st December – O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT
22nd December - O2 Academy, Newcastle SOLD OUT

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