Things were looking rather grim for Saul Adamczewski at the dog-end of 2015. After his erratic behaviour and increasing drug dependence led to his unceremonious ejection from his band, Fat White Family, he languished in London, living on a friend’s floor and using crack and heroin heavily. Eventually, he checked into rehab. Upon leaving, all he was left with were the skewed pop songs he’d amassed for side project Insecure Men.
Now, the band’s self-titled debut – an engrossing, bleak and often warming set of exotica, vintage pop and childlike pizzazz – emerges as a document of recovery. Insecure Men’s journey began at the Queens Head, the south London pub the Fat Whites once squatted in. And with the band – which features a revolving seven to 11-piece line-up including the stabilising influence of Childhood’s Ben Romans-Hopcraft, Saul’s childhood friend – planning for a year on the road, a happy ending appears possible.
Recorded with Sean Lennon in upstate New York, the songs certainly stand up. ‘Subaru Nights’ and ‘Teenage Toy’ (a relic from pre-Fat Whites outfit The Saudis) set a loungey tone, synths and bass blanketed by fruit machine noises and harmonies. The brassy ‘All Women Love Me’, in which Saul sends up his own narcissism, and ‘I Don’t Wanna Dance (With My Baby)’ are singalong delights.
Elsewhere, Insecure Men focus on bringing the sound of drab British suburbia to life: the waltzing ‘Heathrow’, the self-deprecating ‘Saddest Man In Penge’ (inspired by the time Saul lived at his mum’s, worked as a labourer and spent his pay packet on crack).
However, the unpalatable is never far away: ‘Cliff Has Left The Building’, ‘Mekong Glitter’ and ‘Whitney Houston & I’ deal explicitly with Cliff Richard, Gary Glitter and Whitney Houston respectively. One of three songs written by Fat Whites singer Lias Saoudi, the latter features a children’s choir and is particularly chilling. The record’s hand-painted, propaganda-style sleeve also depicts Saul as a North Korean leader. Fat Whites followers will not be surprised, nor will those who chastise the band for their inflammatory tendencies.
Insecure Men, then, is far from a wholesome enterprise. Yet this is an important record for Saul, and perhaps the clearest example of his grotesque talent yet.
- Release Date: February 23, 2018