2019 – Rock / Pop
Hypersonic Missiles is a time machine that takes us back to the 80’s
Samuel Thomas Fender, a.k.a., Sam Fender, is a British actor, singer-songwriter and guitarist. Born in 1994 and raised in North Shields, Sam, after was introduced to Bruce Springsteen’s work by his brother, started to be obsessed with Bruce’s music. In consequence, Fender started to write songs, and with 13, play with his brother in some public and private places. When he turned 18, he reached restaurants, when he was paid to play his songs and others songs. On one of those nights where the fingers wouldn’t let go of the guitars, Fender was saw acting by Ben Howard’s agent, what earned Sam roles in some parts. In 2017, Sam released his first song, “Play God”, that not only entered in FIFA 19 sound track, but also, gives his more meaningfulness. In 2018, after being one of the nominees of BBC’s Sound Of 2018, he dropped his first Ep, Dead Boys, and in 2019, his first album, Hypersonic Missiles.
The influences of Springsteen are undeniable. The first thing that I think when I listen to this LP is Bruce Springsteen. This 80’s Rock style isn’t influential only in the sonority, but in the lyrics and way to sing as well. This aesthetic based in the old-school rock singers resulted in various comparisons between Sam’s Hypersonic Missiles and albums like “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Born to Run”.
With shy fingerings on guitar, the first track, “Hypersonic Missiles” isn’t just the first track and the track which gives the album a name, but also, is the one that has the most influence of Bruce. While Sam is building a hopeless relationship, he also is speaking about the cruelty of the world. Since the “American Dream” up to the chauvinism and middle east war, Fender shows up unable to do something to “heal the world”. After this songs that stuck in the head due the great vocal delivery, “The Border”, composed by guitars, electric guitars and drums, that are played in a hidden way to don’t overshadow Sam’s voice, tells the story of a bully that always bothered Sam, but Fender shows respect and understanding with the situation because the bully’s life isn’t that easy. “The Border” with this calm beat, which only has a climax when the solo of saxophone and nuts electric guitar shows up, has a great lyrical content.
Fender makes his criticism and vision stronger in “White Privilege”, when he understanding the privileges that he has and dances with instrumental that has the focus being the background of the Sam’s monologue. In opposition of this, “Dead Boys” talks about the suicide and how this fact is treated with indifference. Even having a really important and deep meaning, “Dead Boys” is really repetitive and, with this shy scream in the bridge, it looks like a song from a movie sound track. Following the same way, “You Are Not the Only One”, is just a cool song, where the saxophone and some audible elements are worth. After this first five tracks, I have to say that I got disappointed because I don’t saw any innovation in the instrumental aspect. It’s looks like that this first track have the same sonority, but played in different frequencies and “shades”.
However, “Play God” goes the other way (thanks God). The basic strings that sound more severe and opaque and intertwine with the social criticism of the abusive capitalists in relation to the working class, makes it one of the best. While “That Sound”, with a Saturday night bar sound, put the music as the salvation of the bad people that always are trying to put he down; “Saturday”, with the soft and calm beat that get stronger when the indignation is bigger, and vocal that vary between gasping and sated and reach the high pitch when it’s necessary, extols the saving power of Saturday for the working class. Like a breath in the middle of all the fury, “Will We Talk?” tells the story between a troubled couple having this nice beat as the background.
Putting the car back to the highway, “Two People”, composed basically by a chill guitar, piano and vocals, it’s Sam’s testimony of the case of a couple, which one the woman suffers with domestic violence. The use of metaphors is well done and well thought. The sin of adultery It’s present here too: “Call Me Lover”, talks about a married woman who is dating some guy, and how this relationship is influencing the guy and making him acquire a dependency. “Leave Fast”, with this great vocal delivery and guitar that play here and there, talks about the lonely and isolated life of the small cities of the interior. To finish the album, Fender put a beautiful live version of “Use”.
Sam Fender has a big way ahead of him. As was pointed out, Springsteen’s influences are all over the album, and even with the proposal, and very similar lyrical content and sonority based in guitar, piano and saxophones, Hypersonic Missiles is far away to reach the level of Bruce’s work. For me, sometimes, looks like that Sam mixed the Bruce’s sound and lyrics from the 80’s with his experience of the current days. Even with this and the fact that some songs looks like identical, Hypersonic Missiles is good album, with great lyrics, simple and well worked sonority. Fender should keep his head in this way, because, even all the issues, it’s the right one.