I am trying my best to figure what the fuck are Fat White Family supposed to be? This South London outfit – which if legend will have us believe, formed in a squat – defies easy categorisation. At the moment, that might be their biggest advantage.
Diverse rock styles meld into a distinct notion that rock ’n’ roll is 90% attitude and 10% inspiration and to hell with the music industry. On the band’s sophomore effort, Fat White Family truly sound like they made up the songs on the spot in the recording studio. It’s gloriously sloppy but it’s also makes you feel alive and makes you wanna grab life by the balls and scream – “Rock ’n’ roll is alive and kicking!”.
And even if most of the hip kids of the world might not be able to appreciate the low brow artifice that Fat White Family understands rock ’n’ roll to be, it matters not to the band. They simply do what they do best – reminding us that at its core, it’s about two notes, three chords and lorry loads of belief and passion. It’s primal and it’s minimalist rock ’n’ roll ala The Velvet Underground, The Fall and perhaps Ween.
“Satisfied” has basic synth-drum and a fat bass line running through its 3-plus minutes as the repetitive melody keeps the listener grooving to lines like “She looked like Primo Levi sucking marrow out of a bone”, “Love is the Crack” is a funeral dirge that despite itself contains an infectious chorus that may or may not defeat the very purpose it was created for.
And there’s the Krautrock sound-a-like “Hits Hits Hits” which addresses the issue of domestic abuse, delivered in the finest hypnotic motorik fashion. And what about the closing track – “Goodbye Goebbels”? An almost incomprehensible lofi acoustic strum about the jolly topic of Hitler’s final hours in the bunker at the end of World War II. Again, strangely affecting, despite its abject production values.
Ultimately Songs for Our Mothers is either the sound of a band who couldn’t give a fuck or high art that operates on some deep conceptual level that presents these contrarian nuggets as pop art. Nuff said!