- 08 Oct 21
The “North Shields Springsteen” hits the target again on earnest second album.
Sam Fender has already declared second album, Seventeen Going Under, “miles better” than his 2019 debut, Hypersonic Missiles. It’s certainly the most Sam Fender-ish thing he’s yet recorded – which is to say it sounds like a young man’s take on Springsteen (and on the artists who have built on the legacy of Nebraska and Born To Run).
So it’s post-post-Springsteen – a charming, chewy riff on everyman angst and the pain of feeling destiny has big plans for you, even when your lived experience is telling you something very different.
The War On Drugs’ ‘Under The Pressure’ is evoked on the title track, with Fender propelled forward by waves of vintage guitar and saxophone – towards the promised land of an “oh-woah” chorus. You’ve heard it before – but seldom carried off with such earnestness. Speaking to Hot Press in 2019, Fender confessed that growing up in the hardknock Newcastle exurb of North Shields had given something to push against. And that sense of an artist born to sprint towards the horizon persists on his new LP.
“Try again… I’ve started the pattern, I’ve seen the triggers,” he sings on the U2-esque ‘Get You Down’, a dirge about wanting to break free, but feeling tied to a part of yourself from which you can never escape. Springsteen is everywhere today and does not lack for disciples. Fender brings something of his own however, even if he occasionally sounds like Brandon Flowers-doing-Bruce (‘Aye’ could be a lost Killers b-side).
What sets him apart is a sense of empathy and a spirit of adventure. He knows his fans have experienced many of the same growing pains with which he wrestles here. And on Seventeen Going Under, he’s determined to push harder in his quest to bring them the truth as he sees it. The album may not be startlingly original. But it is hugely affecting.
Listen: ‘Get You Down’
Stream Seventeen Going Under below: