England is grim and shit. We all know it, but culture seems to have stymied, caught in a ricktus grin of Strictly Come Dancing, Russell Howard’s Good News and the whoop-di-do fuckrees of Mumford & Son. The charts sway to the pleasing sound of Brit School blues and behind the scenes, lizard bankers and dead eyed money men have a laugh shitting on you, yes you, every single day. We’ve an unelected government, crap on the radio, constant rain, and constant drought. As I said, shit and grim.
Thank God for Fat White Family. Their debut album is the timely antidote to everything that’s bad. Champagne Holocaust is funny, nihilistic, perverse and covered with filth. It’s the opposite of the pro tools-and- subtle-auto-tune puddle music that runs the land, with 11 chaotic tracks that spin, howl and collapse like dust devils in a gale. The songs that have made their live show so compelling are all here –opener Autoneutron, cast as an escalating apocalyptic hymn, the discordant bratty snarl of Special Ape and the junkyard prairie punk of Heaven on Earth- on record they’re garage bombs, but never quite as visceral as the live experience (to be fair, an impossible task..), and it’s on its quieter moments that the album really shines.
Final track Garden of the Numb, a vicious ballad to a hateful arsehole, has singer Lias slurring what amounts to the bands defining statement over woozy oompah drums and seasick guitar: ‘In this cold inbred excuse for a world// I’m lost in the garden of the numb’. It’s part Tom Waits junior, part Mark E Smith drawl, and part drunken wrong ‘un draped over the bar of a South London boozer. Cream of the Young, the lyrically dubious nonce number, also benefits from the studio treatment, mutating into an oozing slice of sleaze, the soundtrack to a porno you wish you’d never seen.
At times, the albums production is cheap and boxy, and ears trained on mega polished product may struggle with the grime, but this really is part of the appeal- Fat White Family are a truly independent band, making a glorious crashing racket as though the world were caving in round their ears. And if that were the case, I can’t think of a better soundtrack to the destruction…
Stream in full below….