Fat White Family

“The shocking thing to do, due to the narrative that we’ve created, is to create something pretty,” Lias Saoudi told NME of Fat White Family’s 2019 album ‘Serfs Up!’. That record, with its relative lushness and alt-disco groove, certainly represented an about-turn from the smacky noodlings of its gross-out predecessors, which found the enfant terribles of the south London punk scene more invested in offending their audience than crafting much of a tune. So now the band have turned in its belated follow-up, ‘Forgiveness Is Yours’, a collection that sees them burrow further down the rabbit-hole of respectability with typical rapaciousness.

There’s stately spoken-word (tongue-in-cheek opener ‘The Archivist’); woozy, experimental jazz (‘Visions of Pain’); and, in ‘Feed the Horse’, pulsing electronica that sounds like Alan Vega’s pissed-off poltergeist entered the chat. On the one hand, it appears Fat Whites have attained a level of equilibrium that seemed unthinkable when they first crawled out of their squats with 2013’s ‘Champagne Holocaust’ between their filthy fingers. De facto leader Saoudi cleaned up in lockdown and re-emerged as an author and essayist, co-penning the bestselling memoir Ten Thousand Apologies: Fat White Family and the Miracle of Failure with writer Adelle Stripe.

As his literary ambitions blossomed, however, the band’s internal strife reached an apex that even they’d not scaled before: founding member Saul Adamczewski left acrimoniously during the creation of this record. And when your rag-tag group reaches the point where you have more past than current members, what’s left? The answer, apparently, is a shedding of skin, a reflection on a lifetime of transgressions and a self-evident desire to leave a legacy. After all, this is a band who’ve loitered in the darkened alleyway outside mainstream success for more than a decade now.

‘Forgiveness Is Yours’ is bleak, cynical and caustic – but it’s also transparently ambitious and bears Saoudi’s fingerprints more than ever. On ‘Today Your Become a Man’, another spoken-word track, he sets the story of his brother’s traumatic circumcision to a burbling, jittery soundscape. On ‘John Lennon’, he pairs puckish acoustic guitar with a fantastical tale about Yoko Ono and the titular Beatle. That mix of realism and whimsy epitomises a brilliantly inventive record that concludes with a bit of sarky musical theatre (which may be aimed at Adamczewski). Saoudi has hinted that this could be Fat Whites’ final album. If so, they’ve gone out on the most surprising note of all.


  • Release date: April 26, 2024
  • Record label: Domino

The post Fat White Family – ‘Forgiveness Is Yours’ review: inventive, ambitious and weirdly respectable appeared first on NME.


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