In hugo, there’s a central question that Loyle Carner keeps coming back to: “I’m young, Black, successful and have a platform – but where do I go next?” The answer is explored in this epic scream of a third album. With urgent delivery and gloriously widescreen production, Carner confronts both the deeply personal (“You can’t hate the roots of a tree, and not hate the tree. So how can I hate my father without hating me?) and the highly political (“I told the black man he didn’t understand I reached the white man he wouldn’t take my hand”). Cinematic in scale and scope, hugo is both a rallying war cry for a generation forged in fire and a study of the personal internal conflict that drives the rest of the album – as a mixed-race Black man, as an artist, as a father and as a son.
hugo is his most cathartic and ambitious record yet, a coruscating journey into the heart of what it means to be alive in these tumultuous times, and one which looks set to neatly cement his position as one of the most potent and vital young talents around today. There’s a striking duality of hugo’s bold, multilayered tracks and its often starkly intimate and tender lyricism, and that dichotomy is deliberate – it is a message for young Black men, but really, anyone, who is listening. Cognizant of the immense pain and fear and confusion that we are faced with everyday, Carner has thrown down the gauntlet, defying us not to rise above the fray, wake up each day and be ambitious. Ambitious in building strong personal relationships. Ambitious in our pursuit of our goals. Ambitious in never refusing to back down against injustice. Rejecting the title of leader, Loyle Carner sees himself “as holding up a mirror”, and that clearly translates into the album’s universal messages.
Available in CD, LP and Indie Exclusive Neon Orange Vinyl LP formats.