Fat White Family 'Songs for Our Mothers' review

Henry Lewis reflects on Fat White Family's rather chilling second album 'Songs for Our Mothers'.

Ben Smith

Date published: 27th Jan 2016

Image: Fat White Family 

It’s not uncommon for songwriters to bare their souls or inner demons through their work. These cries for help may stem from a relationship gone wrong or a battle with their own ego. While these moments of self-awareness can prompt the beginning of a public meltdown, they can also prove to be a candid display of genius. 

Far from pitying himself, Fat White Family lead singer Lias Saoudi wanted to go to a different place with his band’s second album - Songs For Our Mothers - describing to The Quietus: “What I like to do with songs, at least on this album, is really to get at the shittiness lurking in the core of my own soul.” 

Unsurprising then when you look through the tracklist to see songs entitled 'When Shipman decides' and the Nazism referencing duo of 'Goodbye Goebbels' and 'Lebensraum'.

They’ve not exactly helped themselves; critics who have accused them of being over enthused with fascism, drugs and serial killers will be rubbing their hands with glee.

The album isn’t all doom and gloom - although it mostly is. Opening track ‘Whitest Boy On The Beach’ is a melodic, electro infused tune with fuzzy guitars and chilling vocals, throwing you off the scent of what’s to follow. 

Generally, the album is a dark and sludgy affair with stark guitar parts and reverb heavy vocals. ‘Satisfied’ is a perfect example of this, with a Plastic Beach Gorillaz drum beat and a cyclic baseline. The bed for lyrics is about holocaust survivors and indecent activities.

After meeting Sean Lennon at SXSW festival a few years ago, he agreed to help record the band in his New York studio. He gave them access to some of the equipment, used by his father during the Beatles’ recording sessions. 

Speaking at the time of recording, Lennon commented on the time Fat White Family first came over to stay with him: “things got… messy."

"My roommates are Nels Cline from Wilco and Yuka Honda from Cibo Matto, and they're an older generation; they weren’t used to the house being a den of iniquity."

They needn’t have been surprised. Fat White Family have always been open about their enthusiasm for drink and drugs, a subject depicted not only lyrically, but also in the titles of two of the songs on this album. 

‘Tinfoil Deathstar’, aside from its nod to heroin use, is an up tempo groove with mirrored guitars and vocals before a surprisingly resplendent chorus. 

This is in stark contrast to ‘Love Is The Crack’, a chilling affair with instrumentation to make your skin crawl and voices that chill you to the bone.

It’s this substance use and abuse that has been somewhat of a gift and a curse in the making of this album. So much that so that preparations for it were on the rocks when guitarist Saul Adamczewski’s consumption of drugs saw him abscond in the run up to the “Songs for Our Mothers” recording sessions. 

For as long as there is darkness to depict however, there continues to be a reason for Fat White Family to bring it to the light and give us records as grimly fascinating as this one.  

Read: Girl Band at Garbo's review



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