Album Anticipation: Fat White Family’s Serfs Up!

One to watch in 2019: the eagerly awaited 3rd LP from the infamous post-punk kings of sleazy guitar rock: Fat White Family will be jarring our concepts of sound early in 2019.

The band’s debut release Champagne Holocaust (2013 – Trashmouth Records / Fat Possum Records) was like a gritty mission statement from a new (or at least newly refined) eye on social issues. The album often addresses queasy, unsettling themes, ranging from pedophilia and infanticide, to downright sexual lust, homophobia and sexism – but told from the perspective of the seedy characters Fat White Family wish to satirize. The music is miserable, aggressive, and completely breathtaking.

Songs for our Mothers (2016 – Without Consent / Fat Possum Records) was the band’s second full length album release. It followed Champagne Holocaust’s track of gritty social comment, but with an axe to grind against modern culture – this time with a noticeably more personal feel. Songs on the band’s second album dealt with the Third Reich as a way of relating to the band’s internal discipline. Another theme in the album is the deaths of Ike and Tina Turner, which are conveyed as profoundly analogous to the relationship in the band between members Lias Saoudi and Saul Adamczewski (which was notably deteriorating at this point due in part to problems emerging from heroin addiction in the band).

‘Feet’, the first single from the new album, illustrates glossy new recording techniques, including dubious excursions into hazy auto-tuned vocals floating above a growing, omnipresent drum machine. A sense of ominous, impending doom is somehow expressed in a catchy harmonic way, as is the MO of the Fat Whites. We are left to wonder what direction the band will be taking us next. One song from the new release, ‘Oh Sebastian’ was previously available online, having been filmed during a live set in Le Consortium (Contemporary Art Center) during Génériq festival, on Valentine’s Day 2015. It will be exciting to see these new production values being intertwined with the band’s traditionally sleepy melody and deadpan lyrics on tracks like this.

Typically, the Fat Whites have embodied guttural DIY spirit through a raw, untampered sound. The band have taken influence from The Fall and The Birthday Party, while also inspiring a plethora of new talent eagerly revolutionizing the British music scene to become something new, something better. Bands like Shame, Goat Girl, and Lice have been inspired by the Fat White’s incongruous existence in the face of the modern music industry giants.

Fat White Family, like The Fall, or Ben Wallers, showcase an incredibly creative talent being forced to explore the boundaries (self-imposed or external) of lo-fi production and simplistic melodies creating an utterly unique sound. The band struggles against perceptions of mainstream art and the music scene in general, while simultaneously bringing something refreshing and creative to a mainstream(ish) audience. An important influence on all modern guitar rock, Fat White Family will undoubtedly continue this trend with their third album.

The partnership of Lias Saudi and Saul Adamczewski is the origin of much of the bands creative genius. This album is especially exciting considering the gap since the band’s second and most recent album has allowed for impressive side projects to be carved out, such as the Moonlandingz, and Insecure Men. Interestingly, when Lias and Saul diverge creatively into different projects, their music takes a completely different shape, often encompassing pop and electronic styles. While no less powerful, Fat White’s main body of work can often leave one longing for the unparalleled energy they bring to their collaborative work.

When I first saw the Fat Whites at Electric Picnic in 2015, front-man Lias arrived on stage dressed in tight leather trousers and a leather tunic. He swiftly proceeded to lose these in the carnal rock extravaganza that was their 50-minute set, pumping fast-paced tracks and unforgivingly witty lyrics in the audience’s direction (although truly they seemed indifferent as to whether or not we enjoyed it). The band is known for embodying a certain sleaziness, an attitude which is truly felt in the front row of a Fat White Family gig. With blood, sweat, and aggressive indictments of modern culture being swung in your direction from the unapologetic, hedonistic depths of their stage presence, their live performance leaves its impression on anyone who dares enter the depths of their depravity. Anyone interested in where Fat White Family will be heading in 2019 should keep a close ear to the ground for this truly terrific act.