Sault - "Strong"

At one brief moment during this site's three month hiatus, under the influence of PB Souflee and a really good pair of Shure in-ear monitors, I considered scrapping everything and turning this into a Sault fan site. When weighing everything I've listened to this summer — and Notion tells me I've listened to 253 albums — few albums were as good as Sault's four masterfully crafted LPs.

Sault is a British band led by producer Inflo. Except they might be more of a collective and may include some American artists. Few concrete details exist about them outside of what's been reported, and I'm not here to speculate. With little press and no notice, they released four fantastic albums in 16 months, each one differing in sound but completely flooring anyone who listens to it. No band had this great of a track record in such a short period of time since Hüsker Dü.

The band's sound blends everything from ESG to Can, Motown hits to Michael Kiwanuka (who's also produced by Inflo and makes guest appearances on a few Sault records), and beyond. Their music is familiar and refreshing, influenced by the above artists and countless others while creating something new. It is expertly beat driven, with bass lines that will make Rolling Stones and Sound Opinions best-of lists someday. Their songs feature intertwining vocal melodies, unexpected but welcomed left-turns mid-song, and everything from Nile Rodgers to Pete Shelley-styled guitars.

In short, describing Sault's sound in a paragraph does them a great disservice, and you're better off spending the time listening to Sault.

Sault is also deeply political. Their third album, Untitled (Black Is) came out in mid-June at the height of protests over systemic racism and the slaughter of black men and women by law enforcement. That album, like all Sault albums, highlights the inequalities and inequities experienced by BIPOC and BAME through song and spoken word. Black Is and the just released Untitled (Rise) might be the best reflection of the current moment (as in right now) in music.

"Strong," the first track off Untitled (Rise), is a powerful thesis statement for the band's second double album this year. The song speaks of "moving forward," "stay[ing] strong even when they're wrong." At this moment, it's not hard to guess who "they" are — especially when it's brilliantly spelled out in "You Know You Ain't" later in the album.

The song's six minutes somehow finds time to include a drumline, a brief C86-like guitar break, and a string section in one of the most dancable tracks of the year. It's unlike anything I've heard before, and I couldn't think of any better entry to the intriguing world of Sault.

"Strong" by Sault is available on the album Untitled (Rise), out now on Forever Living Originals. Please consider supporting the artist directly by purchasing their album.

Scott Steinhardt

Scott Steinhardt