Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles Review

Those allusions Sam Fender makes to Bruce Springsteen are almost immediate on debut album Hypersonic Missiles. If his title track were not enough to elicit those tones, his lyricisms would confirm it. Fender can rely on this praise-worthy comparison to The Boss for as long as necessary. It crafts a new era of promising music while relying on the influences of his style. With his latest album Seventeen Going Under confirming the utilisation of Springsteen’s sound, it should be no surprise that Hypersonic Missiles is dependent on those drifting guitar strikes and the pairing of lyrical woes with stylish saxophone inclusion. 

Title track Hypersonic Missiles and The Borders offer that natural pairing Fender can provide time and time again. Fascinating lyrics that have some meaning or reasoning behind them are frequent and Fender makes for a formidable artist with honest intentions at heart. Saturday is that perfect understanding of how difficult the working week is for so many, and what it’ll do to those looking for a bit of freedom to “cure the weekday blues.” It is the finest song of the album, because of how close to reality it is, how cutting it can be and the tones found throughout are the most Fender-oriented. There are still the Springsteen comparisons to be made, but Fender presents a modern, upbeat feel to the track, despite the lyrics. Pub culture is captured by a singer who embodies it but fights against it.  

But his work elsewhere on the album feels scattershot. White Privilege comes across as a pointed attack on the generational divide, but little more than that. “The evil is still not gone,” and the repetition behind it does more to widen the gap, but at least that Springsteen sway is holding its own over the track. Dead Boys, too, does not have that undercurrent, emotional punch to it. Fender does not unleash the tones of heartland rock he clamours for all that often, but when he does, he crafts the best songs of the album. You’re Not the Only One and its lyrical qualities are underlined by the consistency from that gradual build of emotion and layered instruments. 

They are still solid tracks, but their repetition or focus is wavering at best. Not as consistent as the music Fender would follow this album up with, but Hypersonic Missiles is formidably strong for a debut album. Lyrical tests and engaging ideas are brought together throughout this one. It is not the most convincing of partnering’s, but Fender is relying heavily on the individuality of these tracks. Play God and Will We Talk? will be recognisable club tunes for years to come, but the drifting strengths of his lyrical styles and the cutting message behind it all is exciting and interesting. Intense and enjoyable it may be, Hypersonic Missiles is a bit quick-cut. There is little to link the meanings of his songs together. Fender does not gun for idealistic narratives crossing over into his songs, but it feels as though there is a wasted opportunity to do so.  

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