I’ve written a lot about the Newcastle, UK-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Sam Fender over the past 18 months or so, and during that same period, the rapidly rising British singer/songwriter and guitarist has received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for crafting rousingly anthemic material with a broad focus on hard-hitting social issues, that generally draws from his own experiences growing up in Northeastern England.
2019 has been a breakthrough year for Fender: his full-length debut Hypersonic Missiles was released earlier this year to critical applause. Now, as you may know, the album, which was recorded and produced at Fender’s self-built North Shields-based warehouse studio, with longtime friend, producer and collaborator Bramwell Bronte is fueled by Fender’s long-held belief that great guitar music with enormous hooks still has the power to influence people and change lives — and to even better themselves and change the world. Adding to an already momentous year, Hypersonic Missiles recently topped the British Album charts.
Hypersonic Missiles last official single “The Borders” continues an incredible run of pop anthems. While being slickly produced, the track is centered around deeply heartfelt and earnest songwriting and singing, shimmering guitars, a soulful horn solo, arpeggiated synths and an enormous, arena rock friendly hook. And while sonically the song is essentially one part Born in the USA-era Bruce Springsteen, one part Reckless-era Bryan Adams and Billy Idol and Rebel Yell-era Billy Idol, the song’s narrator tells a story about two boys growing up together as best friends and brothers-in-arms but who then go their separate ways. Throughout there are memories inferred and implied but not completely addressed, the wistful and halcyon-tinged nostalgia of people, places and times you can never get back. It’s a track that’s both personal and lived-in, yet universal — and to hear that from a songwriter as young as Fender is a rare gift.
Directed by Thomas James, the recently released official video, which is shot through a series of startling flashbacks and flash-forwards gives the song’s central story a lived-in world, as it focuses on two best friends, who lives go in different directions after a major falling out leads to a life-changing incident between the pair and a young girl. And as a result, the video finds its central pair endlessly haunted by the incidents and ghosts that have split them apart — and yet somehow kept them inextricably tied together.
Coincidentally, the official video’s release comes on the heels of Fender’s appearance on Late Night with Seth Myers last night, where he performed “The Borders” to close out his extensive North American tour to support his debut. Now, as you know, I caught Fender’s New York area debut earlier this year at Rough Trade, and from that show, I can tell you that the rapidly rising Newcastle-born and-based artist is a must see. The live footage will give you a sense of his live show, as he’s about to embark on a lengthy — and mostly sold out — UK tour.