Bob Vylan – ‘Humble As The Sun’ review: electrifying, experimental and empowering

Bob Vylan – ‘Humble As The Sun’ review: electrifying, experimental and empowering

Bob Vylan have cemented themselves as one of punk’s most vital voices. Their last album, 2022’s ‘Bob Vylan Presents: The Price Of Life’, hit the Top 20 on the album charts and in that same year, the duo won the first-ever MOBO for Best Alternative Act. And they’ve done it all while remaining independent, releasing music on their own label, Ghost Theatre. The temptation could have been to dull the edges but, thankfully, Bob Vylan aren’t entertaining the idea of backing down.

Their latest record ‘Humble As The Sun’ broadens the duo’s musical scope, blending punk, hip-hop, rock, grime, rap, trap, drum and bass and electronic influences. Similarly, the lyrics span a range of topics from economic disparity (‘Hunger Games’) to toxic masculinity (‘He’s A Man’). The title track takes aim at exploitation in the music industry: “Now watch me as I fight back / For every reggae artist that never got their rights back / That died broke and hungry on the island of Jamaica / While someone at Island Records made a killing off the right tracks.”

Elsewhere, the lyrics show off their trademark sense of humour. “I was a victim of one crime / Was it a gun crime? / No. Bob Vylan got robbed for the Mercury! vocalist Bobby Vylan raps on ‘Reign.’ But the album’s lyrical strength comes from the duo’s ability to cover vast ground on each song, drawing links between different issues, the layered references and clever wordplay rewarding multiple listens. ‘Reign’, for example, tackles the reality of the UK today, discussing colonisation, police brutality, racism and wealth inequality.

‘Humble As The Sun’ has more than a few surprises: the album opens with piano and organ and ‘Hunger Games’, with its raucous riffs, ends in a series of positive affirmations over a drum and bass beat: “Be proud, be open / Be loud, be hopeful / Be healthy, be happy / Be kind to yourself.”

That variety keeps things interesting, but it also allows the duo to flex their musical muscles, and they’ve traded in some of their previous blistering punk for a more relaxed pace on certain tracks, but without sacrificing any intensity. The urgency comes through in other ways: ‘Get Yourself a Gun’’s electrifying riffs contrast Bobby’s restrained delivery of the chorus, while ‘Reign’ takes a darker turn musically and lyrically. ‘Makes Me Violent’’s chilled-out vocals and down-tempo melody add a level of irony as it critiques the hypocrisy of a country that perpetuates violence while warning people off it.

But those contrasts speak to the spirit of the album: perseverance in the face of hardship. Rousing album closer ‘I’m Still Here’ taps into the fire of Bob Vylan’s other releases, as Bobby sings, “I survived / I survived / I survived!” It’s a testament to resilience, but also to the band’s willingness to grow and to challenge themselves. It’s clear that no matter where they go, audiences will be listening.


Bob Vylan ‘Humble As The Sun’ album artwork. CREDIT: Press

Release date: April 5, 2024
Record label: Ghost Theatre

The post Bob Vylan – ‘Humble As The Sun’ review: electrifying, experimental and empowering appeared first on NME.

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