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Fat White Family Songs for our Mothers Fat Possum / Without Consent

Last time we saw critics espousing a band as the last great hope for rock ‘n’ roll, we were presented with a picture of squalid urban living through The Libertines. Around a decade and a half later, we’re looking at Fat White Family. The picture has its similarities, but its blemishes have been deliberately made more vulgar, perhaps in a desperate attempt to capture the attention of a more desensitised generation. 

Much has been written about the band’s organic status – the genuine squalor they endure, the unpredictable mayhem of their live shows, the serious drug problems that grapple their scene, and so on. It’s a tenuous tick box on some imaginary authenticity scale. A scale which, for their fans, makes it okay for the band to call their record label Without Consent, or to make blasé comparisons between the tribulations of Auschwitz survivors and getting a blowjob.

Fat White Family’s dependency on shock value is arguably rooted in their lack of originality, and their struggle to write genuinely memorable hooks. What always arises when a band lacks ideas is a gimmick. For a brief moment Fat White Family’s sense of shock value felt like the sudden jolt that British indie needed but it’s proved to be both immediately tedious and totally unsustainable. 

With its krautrock influences and experiments in eerie psychedelia,Songs For Our Mothers is slightly more interesting than the band’s debut album Champagne Holocaust. But lyrically, there’s aforementioned degradation of holocaust survivor Primo Levi alongside references to Josef Geobbels and Harold Shipman and, judging by singer Lias Saudi’s recent interview with Loud & Quiet, there’s absolutely no moral or artistic justification for doing so whatsoever. 

The whole shtick leaves a foul taste, and Songs For Our Mothers is a grim reminder that while Fat White Family might like to think they represent our supposedly doomed generation, their brand of vain nihilism is probably the one thing that’s holding the rest of us back.