Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar

Alloysious Massaquoi, Graham ‘G’ Hastings and Kayus Bankole form arguably one of the most unique and divisive groups in music. Always difficult to define, Young Fathers have continued to make engrossing music and Cocoa Sugar picks up where White Men Are Black Too left off.

Typically unique and exhilarating, the third album is even leaner, more muscular and self-assured than before with the Scottish band’s ever growing dedication to melody seeping through the cracks. Whilst not overtly political, the three men manage to capture the irritation of the current climate under the backdrop of mesmerising krautrock as well as industrial and soulful instrumentation.

Written and recorded throughout 2017 in the band’s basement studio in Edinburgh, Cocoa Sugar shows a newfound clarity in what is their most definitive release so far. This is shown in the gentle ‘See How’, with the opener’s chorus melody acting as a hook the rest of the composition feeds off. African rhythms and incessant looping then appear for the disturbing ‘Fee Fi’, which then gets cut up by an abrasive piano riff.

Meanwhile, ‘In My View’s reverberating bass is stereotypical Young Fathers, in which the recording carries an underlying sinister edge that keeps you alert and never knowing what is coming up next. This is an aspect the former Mercury winners are probably the best in the industry at doing and exemplify again for ‘Lord’, which transcends from a piano ballad into an epic climatic finish.

‘Tremolo’ then carries an unnerving vibe before ‘Wow’ picks proceedings up with a catchy vocal line. The LP’s passion then peaks on ‘Wire’, before ‘Picking You’s propulsive, militaristic framework ends the record in passionate fashion in what is a composition that should transfer marvellously into a live setting.

Young Fathers have somehow carved themselves into a relatively sweet spot in which they possess pop elements but with an avant-garde mentality, whilst never losing their DIY ethos. The infectious melodies present throughout this album are its lifeblood and are what set the Scottish band away from their peers. Cocoa Sugar is far and away Young Father’s most accessible album and yet it still manages to retain all of the thrilling elements that made them so enthralling in the first place.

Paul Hill