Rating – 3.5/5
Listen on Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUc6PjzWxks
‘Despite Yesterday’ is the debut release from British singer-songwriter Fordë; it’s an eclectic exploration of hip hop, electronica. punk and alternative music written against the backdrop of COVID-19. How does the mixing and matching of these potentially disparate styles pan out? Well, let’s find out.
The songwriting and musical styles incorporated are wide ranging; it’s part Frank Turner infused electronica, part pop punk acoustic, set to a backdrop of Kraftwerk-esque minimalist beats. Yeah it sounds like there’s a lot going on but it actually works pretty well in a lot of cases, which we can attribute partly to the strong songwriting but also the high level of production which blends the styles pretty seamlessly.
On that note, Fordë’s time in an electronica duo serves him well on this album; the sampling and playing is extremely well polished. Particularly impressive is the production, clearly a lot of time has gone into the mixing, the result is extremely listenable.
There’s a nice mix of dynamics in the first half of the album, particularly nice is the muted ‘Paralysed’ which segues smoothly into ‘It’s a Bad Time’ which features crunchy guitars and manic synths set to a lively dance beat.
Thematically, Fordë flits manically between romanticised political idealism, self defeat and uncertainty. Tracks like ‘Oh Lord!’ and ‘Mid-20s Crisis’ are particularly well observed and perfectly encapsulate that cognitive dissonance experienced by the quarter life crisis crowd.
Fordë draws vocal influences from several different sources; there’s a distinctly English singer/songwriter quality, fused with American style pop-punk vocals that are used independently on different tracks. Similarly, he also turns his hand to the ever popular sad trap rap. The middle section of the record is dedicated to this particular style yet unfortunately yet the songs lack distinction and bleed together without much consequence. They are perfectly fine examples of this style yet don’t do much to add to the album’s overall cohesion.
Fordë is clearly a talented musician with a plenty of songwriting ability, this effort is a great showcasing of his abilities. There’s a lengthy tracklist that explores a bunch of different styles which is at best interesting, but at worst lack direction. In an experimental context this is fine, but the record could definitely benefit from some serious refinement. Some brutality in deciding which tracks make the final cut would go a long way.
The final acoustic track ‘can you call home’ is a nice raw finish that nicely juxtaposes the heavy electronic sound that permeates the rest of the album. This is a strong effort with a lot of good musical ideas and perhaps most importantly a willingness to explore and try different things; which bodes well for Fordë’s future musical ambitions.
Review by Theo Wildgoose