私n 2019, Dave’s Mercury prize- and Brit award-winning debut, Psychodrama, became a classic overnight; now it has a rival for introspection, operatic quality and wordplay. Tender piano arrangements, unadulterated storytelling and sermon-like verses flood this topical album that is part confessional poetry, part social commentary. “I’m a young black belligerent. Child of an immigrant. Lifestyle frivolous,” he raps on opener We’re All Alone. The seeming juxtaposition of these realities means that while he can be bragging about Rolexes with Stormzy on Clash, he’ll peel away at his own materialism on Survivor’s Guilt with the admission that, behind the glitz and glamour, he is “cryin’ in the driver’s seat”. It’s not all about the self. “My Jamaicans, the entire party, you can’t see?” he proclaims, honouring the island’s enormous contribution to British culture on the violin-rich Three Rivers, a track about migration that discusses the Windrush scandal.
The highlight is Heart Attack, a glorious nine-minute stream of consciousness where his feelings spill out in abundance, on everything from knife crime to politicians doing cocaine. “Round here, the main way to provide for your kin is in a flick blade, little push-bike and a sim.” When Dave raps, he paints murals. James Blake production, Daniel Kaluuya cameos and Wizkid vocals are just surplus.