Alternative | Indie | Rock | Singer-Songwriter
Note: This will be a review of the deluxe edition of Seventeen Going Under, and will take into account tracks 12 through 16.
I would argue that the North Shields singer-songwriter known as Sam Fender was arguably one of my favourite current artists which I hadn’t yet reviewed. All of that changes today, however, with my review of his sophomore album.
Following the much-deserved success of his 2019 debut album Hypersonic Missiles, Sam Fender fans now get to witness his second coming.
But first, some more mention of his debut album; Hypersonic Missiles was one of those albums which I was very close to making part of my 2019 last minute reviews week. But, for one reason or another, it didn’t transpire. Nevertheless, that album did remarkably well, when it came to showing everyone the sheer talent that Fender was capable of.
Unfortunately for Fender, the events of 2020, and namely the pandemic, hit him very hard; and not just because he was an upcoming song artist. Due to an existing health condition, he had to isolate and shield from other for a whole three months. And where Fender couldn’t look outside, he instead looked within.
As a result, Seventeen Going Under sees Sam Fender displays his introspection through the narrative of the album. There’s a load of sentimentality to unpack, both in Fender’s lyrics, as well as the musicality of the album overall. The indie-rock instrumentation gives off this very festival-ready feel, which takes me back to earlier this year, in which festivals were finally back. It was indeed an incredible time of the year, and it is great that Seventeen Going Under reminded me of that, despite not being completely connected outside of aesthetic reasons.
While we’re on the subject of musicality, Sam Fender goes even further to establish a core aesthetic that makes listeners think “this is undeniably Sam Fender”, without compromising too much of the versatility that came with Hypersonic Missiles.
If you were to just listen to the standard edition of this album, it would’ve rounded off with the eleventh track “The Dying Light”. While I did think that this was musically a pretty fitting way to complete Seventeen Going Under, I took the alternative route and listened to the deluxe edition. Admittedly, the real meat of the album, and also the many great teasers that came before the album, appear on the standard segment. However, tracks like “Pretending That You’re Dead” and “Angel In Lothian” prove that it is worth listening past the primary contents of the album.
While the tracks I didn’t find as memorable on Hypersonic Missiles leaned more on being too simplistic and accessible, the less memorable parts of Seventeen Going Under are more so because of their mellowness and shallow musicality. On the flip-side, I feel that some of Fender’s finest work yet can be found on his sophomore effort, and include tracks like “Aye”, “Mantra”, and many more.
Seventeen Going Under is an essential listen for those that really want to get into those autumnal feels, thanks to its somber yet incredibly sentimental approach. Beneath its mellow exterior, Sam Fender’s sophomore record is a beautifully uplifting experience at heart.
Favourite Tracks: Seventeen Going Under | Aye | Mantra
Least Favourite Track: Better Of Me
Polydor | Universal Music
Enjoyment: 8/10 | Memorability: 8/10 | Atmosphere: 9/10
Uniqueness: 7/10 | Satisfaction: 9/10 | Narrative: 8/10