Released June 2019 From Album: Junior Label: SO Recordings
Written by: The La Fontaines Reached Number 33 in UK Charts, Number 2 in Scotland
There’s a line near the beginning of this song:
“You wanna hear the story? Well I can tell lots/ Said she liked rap, but never from the Scots”
It is poignant because that is one of the first things I noticed about this young independent outfit from Motherwell in Scotland. Unashamed rap in a Scottish accent! I guess that should not sound so strange. I mean, although rap usually sounds “American”, I am also pretty used to hearing it in a “Caribbean” accent. But, being Scottish myself, I can’t think I ever heard that particular sound, before hearing this band.
“All In” is the first song from the band’s third album, “Junior” There’s an underlying “wall of sound” guitar that reminds me of Jerry Harrison from the Talking Heads. I’m thinking in particular of the song “Worlds in Collision”. I’m sure there are many other songs that use this sort of background, but that’s the one I think of immediately. It is the kind of sound that I imagine can be used for videos of bombers flying over cities in World War 2. There’s something about the sound that compares it in my mind to droning engines. Not that I am trying in any way to say this reflects the content of the song. I am merely talking about a particular thick guitar soundscape that I love.
You got it exactly!!! That airplane hum is the very 1st thing that hooked me into the song and kept me listening and excited throughout. Then you have that opening electro ‘squeaky door’ sample that continues through the tune, and you have this lovely sense of tension. Both vocals are fairly restrained and ‘matter of fact’ compared to that, so you have the sense of emotions stretched taut almost to breaking point, counterpointed by two sets of storytelling, succinct, in an absolute clarity of thought v the ‘heaviness’ of the instrumental arrangement. The rap side of the equation never becomes a dirge-lie plod (something a lot of ‘blue-eyed’ hip hop sadly sinks into) and the chorus seems to have drifted in from another (bubblegum) song entirely, which shouldn’t work, but does.
P.S: I think that MANY comparisons to The Streets are totally lazy and also wrong.
I actually think they’ve got their formula just right: rap verse followed by simple but catchy ‘sung’ chorus – two different vocalists as well! I believe they have also thinned their general sound a bit, having recently trimmed the band down to three core members. They may still use overdubs or have extra bits played, but it seems to me as if the writing, the creative craftsmanship, is lean and powerful.
I haven’t seen them live but know a few people who have, and apparently, they are extremely engaging, doing equally well at festivals and small venues. Ah, remember festivals! But I digress… you mentioned the phrase ‘clarity of thought’, and I think that captures their essence. Strong. Singular. Determined. Yet not too serious. Singing about everyday things. Human relationships. Etc. Etc.
Would I be correct in thinking that ‘Junior’ is their ‘breakthrough album’? (I know they had at least two albums before this). I will say that I am not entirely sold on the collection. It’s a little too ‘careful’ in hitting the right beats in a slick way that distances me somewhat. Though I can also cheerfully admit that this is just a ‘feeling’ and I cannot fault the songwriting and performance skill at all, but I am going to have to withhold my unconditional love for the time being and hope there isn’t a Kaiser Chiefs like implosion down the line. That said, this song, I already know, WILL make it into the list when it comes time to put together the infamous NBTMusicRadio’s best of 2020. Over to you for the final words.
I think you are right about the “breakthrough album thing”. I remember reading about the band feeling that this album was a bit of a step up for them. It’s a great album and this is a cracking opening song. Nothing much more for me to say. I love it.