With a bold new album in the bag and a heavy European tour schedule ahead, the bold ‘professional’ Fat White Family makeover surely can’t last?
In the period following 2016’s ‘Songs for Our Mothers’, it seemed as though the wheels had come off what had seemed for a moment like the cacophonic hurtling bandwagon of outrage that was the Fat White Family. The brightest sparks burn so fleetingly and so, after their underwhelming sophomoric effort, it seemed as though that was that. However, having returned to form with the excellent and surprising ‘Serf’s Up’, they seem a band ready for revolution. And, if they are to be believed, with a newly discovered laser-like focus.
The Fat Whites made their name through disparate infamous live appearances in their native Brixton. Breaking internationally via an NME showcase at SXSW (the video of which is definitely NSFW), their debut album ‘Champagne Holocaust’ (2014) consolidated the madness of these shows into an LP oozing scuzz, dirt and punk energy. Their self-mythologising and snarling disdain for fame was refreshing. See, for example, sending rambling septuagenarian Patrick Lyons to accept awards on their behalf. The potential was there for them to horrify and conquer the musical world.
It was all the more disappointing then that they failed to capitalise on this. Rather, the following album fell into self-parody and desperate attempts at generating controversy. Critics reacted fairly unkindly. In the fallout, with the band’s central creative axis of Lias Saoudi and Sail Adamczewski forming other projects, it seemed that the Soviet-inspired typography was on the wall. However, they are back with a new sound, intensity and seem to have rediscovered the dark promise of their first record.
Early reviews suggest that this focus has led to something of a taming in terms of the live performance, shedding some of the excess of 2013/14. This seems mot result from a musical coherence and vision lacking from the last record, which is no bad thing. (It must be stressed: the songs are fucking great). However, there remains the creeping suspicion that this may all fall apart at any moment, adding an element of intrigue. This was a band tipped at one time as one of the most volatile and repulsive, after all.
Fat White Family might have cleaned up their act… We don’t think for long.
The Fat White Family play Bi Nuu on 3rd June. Tickets are available here.
A Scottish troubadour, scientist, writer. Jack of few trades.