14 months ago, a little-known group by the name of SAULT anonymously sauntered onto music’s main stage with their fantastic debut album, 5. Fast forward to the present and they have just released their 4th album in that time. In fact, they have released more albums than I have written articles.
Such rapid content creation may lead you to think they have adopted a Netflix eye-ball grabbing strategy above quality. However, that would be a mistake. Each album has been an improvement on its predecessor, and the first born was no slouch. The group’s continued mystery has plagued the internet, but their anonymity is a purposeful one: don’t pay attention to who we are; pay attention to our sound – and listen to what we are saying.
Continuing with a Part 1 and Part 2 format, Untitled (Rise) is the Part 2 to Untitled (Black Is). Whilst the latter served as a sombre revelation of the grim reality of simply being Black still to this day, Untitled (Rise) opens with a tone of defiance through both Strong and Fearless. Nonetheless, beneath the funk, disco-infused tones of the opening dance tracks, such as I Just Want to Dance, you are still reminded of the painful reality: “We just lost another life.”
In fact, the entire album is a blend of different genres: from the disco opening, you then venture into the funk of Free, eventually ending up on the Marvin Gaye-inspired soul in Scary Times. The album showcases the impact of Black culture within Music that many have come to adore and consume, yet this is undermined lyrically with the reality of how authority and society treats them. You Know It Ain’t takes aim at those who feel their social justice quota is satisfied by daily postings on Instagram. Overall, the album is a constant reminder of the impact of Black culture contrasted against how it is to be Black in society, and this is most epitomised in the album’s conclusive track, Little Boy, utilising a lullaby and then cruelly undercutting that, as the female vocalist sings to her son:
Little boy, little boy, when you get older
You can ask me all the questions
And I’ll tell you the truth about the boys in blue
SAULT have eschewed their own identity in an era where identity is everything, whether it be political or online self-aggrandisement, precisely to place emphasis upon substance. Untitled (Rise) is an immaculately crafted album that encapsulates an historic moment in time, and it is without doubt one of the best albums to have been released this year.