Sam Fender – Indie Rock with Meaning
Sam Fender exploded onto the scene in 2018, being named one of BBC’s Sounds of 2018 with his debut EP ‘Dead Boys’. Now his latest single ‘Play God’ returns with his powerful brand of indie rock.
Fender’s sound takes indie to a new level, with a more blues-influenced sound. This is coupled with a powerful voice that doesn’t hold back. For fans of other singer-songwriters like Hozier, as well as those into louder blues-rock bands like Kaleo, Sam Fender should be right on your radar.
Unlike many of his contemporaries who focus on writing about love or a night on the town, Fender’s songs focus on the bigger issues of the world. He writes about social issues and deeply serious cultural topics, ranging from the current political climate and the Middle East in ‘Play God’, to the damage caused by toxic masculinity in ‘Dead Boys’.
‘Play God’, covers the growing power of world leaders. Lines like “No matter who you are or where you been, He is watching from the screen” target the constant surveillance we are under. These lyrics are laid over a dark mix of drums and guitars with uniquely short reverb and delay effect. This creates a somewhat unsettling sound, but a heavy bass beat gives a marching feel that forces you to move along with it.
‘Play God’ is not the only politically charged track, however. ‘Poundshop Kardashians’, with its already cheeky title, has tongue in cheek lyrics that cut a hard message. He proudly sings of an ‘orange faced baby at the wheel of the ship’, a clear swipe at a certain world leader who seems to lack any clear direction. The song is full of angry lyrics that call out society’s habit of ‘idolising idiots’ in a more and more apathetic world.
These lyrics wouldn’t be out of place in the anarchic punk world characterised by bands like the Sex Pistols or The Clash. But there is a more refined edge that keeps it from being just plain angry, or worse, preachy.
Protest songs have typically been associated with acoustic strumming hippies from the 70s. But Sam Fender seems to be putting them back in style. Instead of calling the government in anti-war demonstrations as Bob Dylan once did, his focus on the issues facing all of us in modern society makes him almost painfully relevant.
It is this refined edge to his sound that really sets his sound apart from other indie rockers of today. He could easily have strayed into the fun-but-forgettable field of easy lyrics that do the job but lack bite. But that’s not at all his style. He has a rawness and power in his music that sets him apart.
With his EP released late 2018, his UK tour is soon to be on the way. Then followed by his full album set to be released in June. If the rest of the album matches the songs already released, it is bound to be one of the best albums of the year, and he is definitely an artist to watch.
Written by Luke Boothman