Fat White Family – [Album]

Fat White Family – [Album]

Monday, 11 April 2016

Artist: Fat White Family
Album: Songs for Our Mothers
Label: Fat Possum Records
Isn’t it incredible how, over time, the basic structures of established musics can become re-imagined/re-engineered for no other reason than they’ve become displaced from the time and places they were first developed? The possibility of time and place being so important for something non-corporeal like music may seem like a dubious one but, in listening to Fat White Family’s new album, Songs for Our Mothers, it suddenly becomes increasingly easy to believe.

The simplest way to look at it is to say that Songs for Our Mothers exists free of time and place, which means that the band is able to crossbreed different sounds, genres and ideas with impunity; all they really need to do is make sure each song is front-loaded with a very well-developed and perfectly unique musical personality, and they can do whatever they want after that – it’ll work.

Fat White Family’s sublime lack of roots but fantastic and strong delivery of unapologetically original music begins with “The Whitest Boy On The Beach,” which opens the record. On the surface, the song seems as though it might be a perfectly soft body; the lyrics read as fairly incoherent (see lines like “Who’s the whitest boy on the beach now? Who’s the whitest boy – Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? Is it I? Is it I?” for a general idea) and the way they sit coupled with the fairly lo-fi production of the music (nothing is clearly defined, the acoustic guitar which runs the length of the song sounds like a cigar box with strings, the multi-tracked vocals sound a little boozy and loose) sounds as though the album may have been the thing that a couple of first-year Arts students made after they ran out of beer money from their student loans and had to do something while stuck in residence to kill time between classes. Even so though, like Sebadoh’s eariest recordings, there is a heart and hope about the song and listeners will find it impossible to turn away – even as the song ends and both focus and tone shift completely for the follow-up song, “Satisfied.”

For “Satisfied,” Fat White Family completely drops the image they built up for “The Whitest Boy On The Beach” And just jumps into lower, darker timbres with an almost chilling ease. The sound here just doesn’t seem as though it was made by the same band; here, singer Lias Saoudi mopes through a sleepy, echo-laden workout which really just trudges along while most of his bandmates lay up or just drop out of the mix completely; the contrast presented is miles from “Whitest Boy On The Beach” in spirit, tenor and tempo and, while not at all caustic, proves to be jarring because it is so far from what fans may have perceived would be the norm thanks to the album’s opening track. “Satisfied” really tests listeners’ patience and, were the album to continue in the manner of this song, some listeners giving up early wouldn’t be surprising but, happily, the band falls into a pretty deep aural K-hole and begin bouncing more thoroughly stoned sounds off its walls through “Love Is The Crack.” It’s hard not to draw obvious comparisons between Fat White Family and a very young incarnation of Flaming Lips as “Love Is The Crack” sort of meanders its way through, feeling a little stoned before just sort of collapsing into “Duce”. In both cases (and as was the case with “Satisfied” too), the band makes it easy for listeners to escape into the music even if the lyrics are a little dumb and pedestrian (how else would one qualify the “I’m so sick of swallowing/ Your half-eaten kiwi fruit/ Back to the reservoir to wet my lips/ Good god that water is blue” lines from “Love Is The Crack”?) but, like Jane’s Addiction (no strangers to dumb lyrics themselves) before them, the band proves themselves able to still make the pedantic and sort of silly universal and hummable, and listeners will find themselves won over by that – even if they didn’t think they would be. The stream of unlikely hits which follow a similar pattern extends through the rest of the album, but particular standouts like “Lebensraum,” “Hits Hits Hits” and “Tinfoil Deathstar” prove that homegrown, indie genius is still possible now, even ten years after that genre sulked its way back out of immediate view. In that way, Songs for Our Mothers is something of an unexpected revelation; after the “mainstream indie rock renaissance” sort of upended itself under the weight of its own ambition and “self-assured intelligence” (nobody really likes to hear a chorus of “I’m cooler and smarter than you” all the time), Songs for Our Mothers marks the first occasion in a while when needs-first ingenuity and a desire to just make a record with limited potential for a group of discerning potential listeners yields positive results. To wit, if you think indie rock is dead, Songs for Our Mothers might just be the album which changes a lot of minds.





Songs for Our Mothers is out now. Buy it here on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Songs-Our-Mothers-White-Family/dp/B018935WJI/ref=sr_1_1_twi_aud_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1460346584&sr=8-1&keywords=fat+white+family+songs+for+our+mothers

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