British singer/songwriter Sam Fender released his debut album, “Hypersonic Missiles,” on Sept. 13 through Polydor Records. His sound is a throwback to 1980s heartland rock with a hint of indie rock and pop thrown in to make a unique mix. The lyrics, however, reveal a jaded man wise beyond his years.
The album opens with Fender’s hit single, “Hypersonic Missiles,” which hits the listener with the force of an actual missile. The track slowly builds in intensity until the chorus hits and spits out hard hitting lyrics that attack our capitalistic society and warn of upcoming war.
“I eat myself to death, feed the corporate machine / I watch the movies, recite every line and scene,” Fender sings. “The tensions of the world are rising higher / We’re probably due another war with all this ire.”
Photos courtesy of @sam_fender Instagram
Fender’s lyrics and the guitars are impactful enough, but the song rises even higher when a saxophone solo enters, and the track begins to resemble a Bruce Springsteen hit, like “Born to Run.” One could easily see this song being a hit in an arena, despite its jaded lyrics: “They say I’m a nihilist, ‘cause I can’t see / Any decent rhyme or reason for the life of you and me.”
Another single that found its way onto the album is “Dead Boys,” which is a much quieter, haunting song about suicide. It discusses how men often hide their emotions and struggle with depression because of our culture’s expectations on masculinity.
“We close our eyes, blind our pain, nobody ever could explain / All the dead boys in our hometown,” Fender sings.
He touches upon suicide, an important subject that is often glossed over and does it in a way that is cathartic and personal. Suicide is a subject that hits close to home for many, and listeners can connect to the suffering and the struggle to make sense of tragedy. The music video for this track is just as haunting, with a man tying a plastic bag around his head as several people watch and do nothing.
Many of the album’s songs also reveal Fender’s cynicism and frustrations with life. “White Privilege” touches upon division caused by the media and “smug liberal arrogance” and is one of the only moments on the album where the lyrics fall a bit flat, as towards the end, Fender sings about the shame he feels being a white male, which comes across as simply promoting self-hatred instead of calling out the real patriarchal issues in our society. “Saturday” describes the agony of making it through another work week and waiting for the weekend while “making some c*** rich,” and has a great sing-along chorus. “Will We Talk?” another single, tells the story of two people hooking up, and one of them wonders if they will actually “talk in the morning.”
“Hypersonic Missiles” is a very strong debut album that, despite a few lyrical missteps, touches upon issues that need to be talked about more. The album deftly criticizes our society and the people who run it, while also giving a great comeback to guitar music. Hopefully Sam Fender will be releasing more music soon, because the current landscape of artists needs more writers like him that sing more than empty platitudes and soulless pop tunes.
Ben Crnic is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org