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Sam Fender Seventeen Going Under

Sam Fender breaks the indie rock mould with the eclectic sounds of Seventeen Going Under, challenging the zeitgeist with sincere stories and visceral lyricism.

Released: 8 October 2021
Seventeen Going Under

Sam Fender makes a triumphant return with his second studio album, Seventeen Going Under. Opening with the title track, the North Shields singer offers an authentic portrayal of adolescence. While Fender never shies away from a self-deprecating lyric, there’s always a sense of endearment intertwined in them. The song opens with Johnny ‘Bluehat’ Davis’ fanfare of saxophones, which continue to make an appearance on the record, especially on tracks like ‘Get You Down’.

On the more dark and experimental ‘The Leveller’, the 27-year-old navigates “little England” as it “rips itself to pieces”. Harnessing a similar sentiment on the punky ‘Aye’, Fender masters a socially conscious sound, unafraid to tackle issues of class and political polarity. Compelling narratives echo throughout the record, particularly on the less hard-edged ‘Mantra’. Cloaked delicately in bright, country-esque acoustics, Fender’s vocals shine as he urges: “Please stop trying to impress people who don’t care about you”.

‘Paradigms’ is a powerful standout track that encompasses a cinematic and nostalgic versatility – meshed with a melancholic arrangement of strings, the singer addresses a list of heartbreaking problems, raspily repeating “no-one should feel like this”. On the following track ‘The Dying Light’, Fender provides a piano ballad that’s a deep-cut sequel to 2019’s ‘Dead Boys’. The folk strums of ‘Good Company’ showcase a haunting vulnerability as he juxtaposes the best and worst traits of himself, while the heartfelt ‘Spit Of You’ examines the relationship between Fender and his dad, featuring himself and Stephen Graham in the music video.

Representation pervades Sam Fender’s work as he confronts sociopolitical and mental health issues. Working through his unique lived experience, the singer succeeds in capturing the feelings of so many in society today, regardless of their race, class, gender, or sexuality. Full of eclecticism and introspection, Seventeen Going Under is a record that allows listeners to not only understand the singer, but understand themselves.

by Sahar Ghadirian (she/her)
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