With songs about dopamine-hun­gry mil­len­ni­als, an Or­wellian fu­ture dystopia, toxic mas­culin­ity and misog­yny, Fender ex­presses truth and lived emo­tion

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - THE TAKE - NIALLBYRNE


A song­writer who digs deep into real life and his sur­round­ings.


New­cas­tle, Eng­land.


Sam Fender grew up in North Shields, a fish­ing town 13km from New­cas­tle on the north bank of the river Tyne. His birth­place is the in­spi­ra­tion for his break­through song, Dead Boys, which ad­dresses male sui­cide in small towns. “We close our eyes / learn our pain / no­body ever could ex­plain / all the dead boys in our home­town,” Fender sings poignantly on the song that uses tu­mul­tuous and bright gui­tar tones to aug­ment the cathar­tic sen­ti­ment ex­pressed.

Fender first ap­peared on the BBC Sound of 2018 list at the start of this year after slowly and steadily grow­ing his rep­u­ta­tion with a se­ries of sin­gles since 2017 that show­cased an artist in­ter­ested in ex­press­ing lived emo­tion. Songs about dopamine-hun­gry mil­len­ni­als, an Or­wellian fu­ture dystopia, toxic mas­culin­ity-fu­elled drunk fight­ing, mis­treat­ment of women and get­ting stuck in a one-horse town – Ed Sheeran this ain’t.

Fender’s most re­cent sin­gle, That Sound, a “feck the be­grudgers” an­them, has a sur­pris­ing in­flu­ence of Sim­ple Minds, re­call­ing the 1980s era of emo­tive rock that Jim Kerr was a nat­u­ral fit for. Over a hand­ful of songs and a de­but EP, Fender’s mu­sic has re­tained its own iden­tity and avoided re­gur­gi­ta­tion.

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