Album Review: Father’s Awful Swim (2018 LP) feels like a house party in hell (and we want to go)

Father, the ringleader of cutting-edge Atlanta multimedia label Awful Records, has returned with a new album in collaboration with Adult Swim – a DIY label and a DIY network coming together to craft something truly unique.

Father’s style is one that many try to replicate and often struggle to do so – his odd delivery, which swings between commercially viable, experimental and a myriad of other styles forms the basis for the appeal of his music, and his ear for instrumentals from the likes of Eugene Cam and long-time collaborator meltycanon as well as label mates Ethereal amongst others work to construct a twisted tapestry of violent party music.

This new album Awful Swim encapsulates what makes Father’s music so interesting and engaging for the listeners. The lack of synchronicity between hedonism and regret – living and dying are well explored and presented. He paints pictures of excess, with Gucci belts, liquor, sexual pursuits, but also of addiction and racism that bubbles to the surface so prevalently in Atlanta and it’s music scene.

‘Mirror Mirror’ is a perfect opener to the album, with some bouncy bass and all the catchy hooks and quotes of a true Father song. A quality that shines through in this project is Father’s ability to craft a catchy hook that sticks in the head of listeners – this skill was what propelled him to acclaim with his breakout single ‘Look at Wrist’.

The collaborations are slightly less prolific on Awful Swim than previous album I’m a Piece of Shit but they are far better utilised and make the album feel a lot more cohesive. ‘Private Show’ featuring label-mate Slug Christ is a perfect example, as well as ‘On One’ with Rico Nasty both support this claim as the individual styles of the artist are somewhat mirrored by Father, in both delivery and writing, as well as the chosen instrumental, while still feeling intertwined with the album’s feeling as a whole. Striking the balance between introducing new artists and keeping the record cohesive is a skill that Father has now grown to master on this project, making Awful Swim feel like his most polished album or project of his career.

All of the songs are quite short, usually just scraping three minutes, but with the faster delivery and energetic beat selection they definitely feel fully developed and fleshed out. The concise nature of the album provides merit as Father has the opportunity to explore different styles (definitely note the difference between songs like ‘Wine’ and ‘We had a Deal’) without stretching Awful Swim into some 90 minute exploration of what Father can do. The ideas are presented, the songs are rapped, and the album ends strongly – many current artists should look to this model of simply picking the best songs for a project as opposed to overstuffing releases to bulk up streaming numbers with no discerning edit of the album (sorry Rae Sremmurd).

The hellish nature of this album runs prolifically throughout the project, with the dark basslines and heavy hedonism mixed in with some demonic lyrics to match. It’s dark yet fun, and still plays out in an enjoyable manner as opposed to becoming enamoured with the idea of being edgy or flexing too much.

Overall, Father’s struck gold with Awful Swim, it’s concise and well constructed making for a satisfying listen, and serves as a perfect showcase to skeptics or new fans as to why he has been able to construct such a cult following over the course of his decorated career.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Awful Swim is now available on all services through Awful Records. Follow Father on Facebook.

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