Mysterious R&B/Dance/Soul act Sault have returned and they aren't holding back. Less than 12 weeks after dropping an epic double album, they are back with another epic double album. Billed as part 2, Untitled (Rise) is the follow up to Untitled (Black Is) and manages to surpass what I thought was the best album of 2020.
Normally I would grab a screenshot of the lovely, lovely vinyl spinning on my deck with a snap of the album cover and put a little remark about how music always sounds better on <mad colour> vinyl. I can't do that with this (or the previous album) for a couple of reasons:
1) Despite ordering the first album months ago (and this one the minute it came out) neither have arrived yet. Sault maybe masters of keeping off the radar, but they need work on their distribution skills!!!
2) When the album arrives it is on black vinyl...with a black label...in a black sleeve...with a black cover...the only thing visible is a pair of hands praying (Rise - below - honestly, it is there!) or a clenched fist (Black Is) and they are both faded grey. Not the most eye-catching, but very effective.
So what is the album like though? In a word; fabulous. 'Black Is' was a protest album that seemed to have been written specifically as part of the Black Lives Matter movement that made headlines in May following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. 'Rise' sounds more hopeful, more optimistic.
But that is the thing about Sault, they draw you in with dance/soul tracks and have you nodding away then you realise you are singing lyrics like "Why do you keep shooting us?", “We lost another life” and “Why do my people always die?” It is disconcerting, it made me question if I should really be enjoying this and I think this exactly what the band were trying to achieve.
There is a track called "You Know It Ain't" which is a series of statements read out in smiley voice calling white people out. "Yeah, I see your little post, talking ’bout ‘BLM is my motto’ - but you know it ain’t… You say your entire friend group back home is all black - but you know it ain't... You talk the talk, you fake the walk and everybody thinks its fine - but you know it ain't". It made me squirm and I think that was the point.
Musically I think this is their best work (and it has some competition from the other three albums), lyrically it has moments that hit harder than Mike Tyson, but this is par for the course for Sault, they are masters of sucking you in with soulful grooves or danceable R&B then get you thinking about things you might not normally think about.
Tracks to try: 'Strong', 'Fearless', 'You Know It Ain't' or 'Little Boy'.