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Sam Fender - Hypersonic Missiles (Album Review)

Tuesday, 17 September 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Sam Fender is an interesting artist. His debut LP, ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, arrives amid plenty of hype from industry figures who have already anointed him as a future star, but it’s also a lacerating, frank odyssey into its creator’s fears and anxieties.

Musically, Fender likes things big and bold. The palette here is Bryan Adams meets the Killers meets Don Henley, with the grit and soul of Bruce Springsteen’s stadium-sized ‘80s work out of reach no matter how many ripping sax solos are included. Quite clearly, though, that is the end goal.

With that acknowledged, ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ works as a piece because it is extremely competent. Fender understands the slick world of American road jams that he wants to inhabit and there are moments—Saturday’s crunchy guitar strut, the none-more-War on Drugs Dead Boys—when he does so with no little style. His progress is only impeded by an apparent reluctance to dig beneath the surface and find something new to say about a style that’s been done to death.

Lyrically, Fender’s musings on death, white privilege and the blinkers that most of us wear when it comes to the suffering of others are welcome and plainly articulated. There’s no hiding behind metaphors here—if he’s made mistakes, if he’s guilty of gliding by as a straight white dude, then he’s willing to try to change. 

That’s a worthwhile admission, but elsewhere Fender’s words are undercut by the bile he has previously reserved for those who don’t meet his standards. It’s only a matter of months since he released Poundshop Kardashians, a song that baited reality TV fans and found him admitting he “no longer fear[ed] genocide” as long as the victims are “thick as fuck and soulless” quasi-celebs. So, which is it? Much as there’s some figuring out to do musically, this is also an area for future reflection.

In five years’ time, ‘Hypersonic Missiles’ could be remembered as the starting point for a blockbuster career—it’s got most of the ingredients. But what sort of blockbuster? All big budget gloss or something with nuance? That’s up to Fender, who will eventually have to choose if a life spent skating across the gleaming surface of radio-ready rock suits him.

Sam Fender Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri November 22 2019 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy
Sat November 23 2019 - LIVERPOOL Guild of Students - Mountford Hall
Mon November 25 2019 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Tue November 26 2019 - NOTTINGHAM Rock City
Wed November 27 2019 - GLASGOW O2 Academy Glasgow
Thu November 28 2019 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Sat November 30 2019 - BRIGHTON Brighton Dome
Sun December 01 2019 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Mon December 02 2019 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Wed December 04 2019 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Thu December 05 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Academy Birmingham
Sat December 07 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Sun December 08 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Tue December 10 2019 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Wed December 11 2019 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Fri December 13 2019 - CARDIFF Cardiff University Students Union
Sat December 14 2019 - BOURNEMOUTH O2 Academy Bournemouth
Mon December 16 2019 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Tue December 17 2019 - BELFAST Ulster Hall Belfast
Thu December 19 2019 - SHEFFIELD O2 Academy Sheffield
Sat December 21 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle
Sun December 22 2019 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE O2 Academy Newcastle

Click here to compare & buy Sam Fender Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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