Fat White Family – ‘Songs For Our Mothers’ Review

South London hooligans Fat White Family’s second album is a dark, groovy and occasionally unlistenable thrill

The Fat White Family like to get f***** up and fight, and they’ve been doing it since they formed in south London pub-cum-squat The Queens Head in 2012. Past misdemeanours include: arguing then collapsing onstage, publicly celebrating Margaret Thatcher’s death, naming their record label Without Consent, and filling 2013 debut ‘Champagne Holocaust’ with contentious filth including a song called ‘Cream Of The Young’ that referenced “a 15-year-old tongue“. They are sick and provocative thrilling.

Their latest flare-up came last November, when guitarist Saul Adamczewski’s drug use meant his commitment all but disintegrated, forcing rhe band to abandon him mid-tour throwing preparations for second album ‘Songs For Our Mothers’ into jeopardy. Like his four bandmates, the emaciated, gap-toothed songwriter was ensconced in a busy interview schedule and had recently shaved his head for the video for lead single ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’.

Even though its tracklisting references Nazi politician Joseph Goebbels and murderous doctor Harold Shipman, ‘Songs For Our Mothers’ represents a chance to override controversy with music. Opener ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’ is the shot-in-the-arm banger we’ve waited two years for, smothering Donna Summer disco in motorik rhythms, whirring organ and dervish vocals from rat-like frontman Lias Saoudi.

It’s the first and last moment of lightness. Thereafter, the record explores inflammatory issues. Recorded with Sean Lennon in upstate New York, the clanging ‘Satisifed’ imagines oral sex with holocaust survivor Primo Levi, ‘Goodbye Goebbels’ romanticises Hitler’s suicide and heroin party song ‘Tinfoil Deathstar’ pays groovy tribute to David Clapson, an ex-soldier who died from diabetes complications in 2013 after his benefits were cut by the Government. Crucially, lines like “She looked like Primo Levi sucking marrow out of a bone” (‘Satisfied’) and “Here’s to the fourth reich/ I bid you a Jew” (‘Goodbye Goebbels’) are set to the band’s most intricate and best recordings yet. It’s as if they’re goading, ‘Sure, criticise us, but just listen to these choruses!’

Doomy seven-minute dirges ‘Duce’ and ‘We Must Learn To Rise’ are far more uncomfortable, mainly because they prompt speculation as to how many drugs you’d have to consume to think they sounded good. Nevertheless, the majority of this 46-minute album is gripping, a sickening start to the year that makes Saul’s temporary departure all the more understandable. This band is challenging enough to listen to, let alone actually be in.

Details

Record label: Fat Possum Records
Release date: 22 Jan, 2016