Sam Fender — „Seventeen Going Under“ (8 Oct., 2021)UK FLAG                                                                           Sam Fender — „Seventeen Going Under“ (8 Oct., 2021)
Jsme jako naše činy. Hudba, která udeří do vzduchu i do nitra. Sam Fender vydává své druhé album téměř dva roky od vydání Samova, kritikou uznávaného debutového alba „Hypersonic Missiles“, které debutovalo na 1. místě britského žebříčku alb. „Seventeen Going Under“ nachází Sama, jak se vystavuje zrcadlu; jeho dospívání a zkoušky a strasti dospívání. Je to příbuzná cesta, která vede přes často promarněné mládí, proplouvá bouřlivými vztahy s přáteli i rodinou a snaží se přijít na to, co přijde dál a jak se k tomu dobelhat. North Shields je všudypřítomnou kulisou pro tyto hluboce osobní viněty mladého života, který bez dechu cestuje od nuly k šedesáti, natahuje přestávky a zase se vrací z místa, kde začal. V průběhu nahrávky tyto úžasné písně zaznamenávají všechny uctívané vzpomínky, záludná setkání a události, které Sam nemůže nevidět. Je to příběh mladého teenagera, který nejen ztratil svou nevinnost, ale poté našel sílu poloslepě se potácet k dospělosti se vším, co s tím souvisí.
Hudební referenční body jsou podobné jako u jeho debutu — The War On Drugs, zmíněného Bruce Springsteena —, ale spojení s producentem a důvěrníkem Bramwellem Brontem na tomto albu jen sílí. Ve smyčcové skladbě ‚The Leveller‘ jsou odstíny Echo a The Bunnymen a v koktavé hře ‚Paradigms‘ jsou odstíny The National; jeho hlas má prostor vznášet se na těchto temnějších, grandiózních skladbách. Zdá se, že jde o hudební přátelství, které by mohlo roky běžet a běžet.Sam Fender ©ALICE HADDEN
Location: Newcastle, North Shields, UK
Album release: 8th Oct., 2021
Recorded: Dec. 2020 ~ Feb. 2021
Studio: Grouse Lodge, Ireland
Record Label: Polydor
Duration:     63:43
01. Seventeen Going Under   4:58
02. Getting Started   3:09
03. Aye   3:07
04. Get You Down   4:24
05. Long Way Off   3:50
06. Spit Of You   4:33
07. Last To Make It Home   5:21
08. The Leveller   4:01
09. Mantra   4:16
10. Paradigms   3:45
11. The Dying Light   3:58
12. Better Of Me   3:49
13. Pretending That You’re Dead   2:59
14. Angel In Lothian   4:12
15. Good Company   4:47
16. Poltergeists   2:33
• UK Albums (OCC)   #1
Alex Borwick    Assistant, Assistant Engineer, Trombone
Joe Allen    Choir/Chorus
Joe Atkinson    Additional Production, Choir/Chorus, Engineer, Sampling, Synthesizer
Bramwell Bronte    Producer
Mark Broughton    Engineer, Piano, Synthesizer
Greg Calbi    Mastering
Joe Champken    Choir/Chorus
Rich Costey    Mixing
Will Creswick    Photography
Lorraine Crosby    Choir/Chorus
Heidi Curtis    Choir/Chorus, Vocals (Background)
Rosie Danvers    String Arrangements
Owain Davies    Choir/Chorus
Johnny Davis    Choir/Chorus, Saxophone
L Devine    Choir/Chorus, Vocals (Background)
Rosie Devine    Choir/Chorus
Aaron Duff    Choir/Chorus
Sam Fender    Bass, Composer, Fender Rhodes, Glockenspiel, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Harmonica, Mandolin, Organ (Hammond), Piano, Strings, Synthesizer, Vocals
Steve Furnell    Choir/Chorus
Steph James    Choir/Chorus
Thom Lewis    Percussion, Piano, Producer, Programming, Sampling, Synthesizer, Synthesizer Bass
Drew Michael    Choir/Chorus, Drums
Sarah Mitchell    Choir/Chorus
Rob Moose    String Arrangements, Viola, Violin
Matt Saxon    Choir/Chorus
Craig Silvey    Mixing
Matty Snelling    Choir/Chorus
Richy Southern    Choir/Chorus
Dani Spragg    Mixing Assistant
Glen Sutherland    Choir/Chorus
Nick Taylor    Engineer
Dean Thompson    Additional Production, Choir/Chorus, Engineer, Guitar
Tom Ungerer    Bass
Claude Vause    Assistant, Assistant Engineer
Mark Webb    Trumpet
Jack Whitefield    Creative Director, Design, Photography
Alexis Petridis ⌊Thu 7 Oct 2021 12.00 BST⌋ Score: ★★★★★                                   Alexis Petridis’s album of the week
★⊇  Polydor
★⊇  The North Shields songwriter replaces his former broad~brush politicking with rousing but arrestingly bleak, personal material that puts his indie~rock peers in the shade.
★⊇  Over on the video~sharing platform TikTok, videos with the hashtag #samfender have received more than 258m views. There is cameraphone footage of his gigs, clips of his TV interviews and lists of “top tier indie bois” in which the 27~year~old singer~songwriter seems to rank highly. And there are a wide selection of videos for which the title track of Fender’s second album provides a soundtrack. It plays behind montages of holiday snaps, perfunctory visual guides on how to cook a steak sandwich and how to crochet a tote bag and a bafflingly popular video featuring someone mashing up doughnuts with a pestle and mortar.

★⊇ And why wouldn’t Seventeen Going Under provide a soundtrack for happy summer memories and doughnut~based antics? It’s propulsive, possessed of a breezy melody and a wordless middle~eight that might have been designed for crowds to woah~oh~oh along to in the huge venues Fender started playing after his 2019 debut album Hypersonic Missiles went gold. Yet it opens with a grim description of numb teenage nihilism (“I remember the sickness was for ever, I remember snuff videos”) shifts into a rumination on violence, toxic masculinity and mental illness, and concludes with the image of Fender’s mother, mired in debt and suffering from fibromyalgia, crying after an unsuccessful application to the Department for Work and Pensions. 
★⊇ It’s a useful indicator both of the unique position Fender holds — a white twentysomething male singer~songwriter with a mainstream pop audience who is distinct from all the other white twentysomething male singer~songwriters — and of the tone of his second album. It isn’t a vast musical leap from his debut. Fender’s primary influence is still Bruce Springsteen, mostly in soaring~anthems~decorated~with~saxophone mode, although the reflective piano ballad Boss of Racing in the Street or Stolen Car lurks behind closer The Dying Light. And the rhythms of his songs still lean towards clipped and taut, equal parts motorik beat and the Strokes circa Hard to Explain. But it offers a big qualitative jump, particularly lyrically. It pares away its predecessor’s well~intentioned but clumsy broad~brush politicking and replaces it with sharp details born of personal experience. It shakes off Springsteen’s lyrical influence, most notably the desire to add romantic, novelistic sheen: there’s a potent collision between the stirring air~punch~inducing quality of the music and the bleakness of what Fender has to say.
★⊇  The end product is both commercial — big choruses, sticky melodies — and an arresting portrayal of life in his home town, North Shields, “as little England rips itself to pieces”, in the words of The Leveller. The whole thing simmers with a compelling anger, which boils over both on the disarmingly pretty Paradigms — “no one should feel like this” — and Aye, a song that inhabits white working~class disillusionment: “The woke kids are just dickheads.” The beat feels less hypnotic than unrelenting, the melody is scraped away to a monotone and as it reaches its climax Fender’s voice takes on the keening quality of John Lydon: “I’m not a fucking patriot any more… I’m not a fucking liberal any more, I’m not a fucking anything or anyone.” 
★⊇  Elsewhere, his gaze shifts inwards. There’s been surfeit of self~examination in pop over recent years, but Fender’s approach is too acute and unsparing to be dismissed as millennial solipsism. Mantra takes that traditional second album standby, the prematurely jaded fame~isn’t~all~it’s~cracked~up~to~be whinge and turns it on its head, concerning itself not with the unedifying sound of a pop star complaining about being a pop star but the “self~loathing” of impostor syndrome. Spit of You deals with father~son relations in bleakly moving terms, where qualms about an inherited bad temper and an inability to communicate are undercut by the sight of his dad kissing the body of his grandmother in a chapel of rest: “One day, that’ll be your forehead I’m kissing.”
★⊇  It goes without saying that this is not the usual stuff currently served up to lovers of top tier indie bois: in 2021, what you might call mainstream alternative rock still sells in album chart~topping quantities, small as they are, but it seems moribund and faceless, a placeholder for people who either missed out on Britpop or wish it was still with us. Seventeen Going Under feels urgent, incisive and brave when it would have been easier for Fender to deck out his festival~ready, TikTok~able melodies with something notably blander and less pointed. Instead, Seventeen Going Under is an album rooted in 2021 that, in spirit at least, seems to look back 40~something years, to the brief early 80s period when Top of the Pops played host to the Specials and the Jam. The result is really powerful.
By Thomas Smith ⌊6th Oct., 2021⌋ Score: ★★★★