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Published on May 14th, 2019 | by voxx

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Fat White Family – Serf’s Up

Danceable, tuneful and depraved: the squat-rock degenerates deliver their finest work yet…

Fat White Family’s allure has always been a balance between the unsavoury whiff of their lifestyle and the substance of their gleefully grimy music. The clanking, unbearably heavy downer that was 2016’s Songs For Our Mothers, however, suggested that the former had torpedoed the latter. Something apparently confirmed when musical director Saul Adamczewski was booted out for heroin addiction.

Now reconciled, Fat White Family have positioned this third LP as their “slick pop album” and – as far as can be expected from a band whose song subjects have included Joseph Goebbels and Harold Shipman – that’s pretty close to the mark: Serfs Up! serves its dispatches from the murky depths of human nature within the most consistently brilliant music the group have produced.

Built around a throbbing bass groove and quivering, glitterball strings, opener ‘Feet’ is a swish of irresistible, sensual disco; albeit one that explores both anal sex and dead refugee children. The subject matter might raise an eyebrow, but the breadth and deftness of the music here is a joy.

Warped electro-pop bleeds into queasy lounge music, hip-thrusting glam and even a delicate chamber orchestra, everything coalescing into a sinuous whole. ‘Vagina Dentata’ lurches around like a zombie Doobie Brothers, ‘Fringe Runner’ cuts its White Lines-like bassline with droning Bowie-in-Berlin guitars and crashes of jarring synthesizer, while on ‘Tastes Good With The Money’ ominous Gregorian chanting makes way for a gloriously catchy Glitter Band stomp.

Throughout, singer Lias Saoudi slips just under the surface like a sleeper cell, breathing his unsettling, darkly funny lyrics like a malevolent phantom. Slick may be stretching it, but Serfs Up! is pop music at its subversive best.

- By Jake White


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