Some people will call Songs For Our Mothers the most unpleasant album of this year, if not of their entire generation; the work of a bunch of drink and drug wracked nihilist degenerates. Some will say that it is a thrilling statement of disgust, defiance and complete creative independence made by the only rock band in the UK that really counts for anything at all anymore. But it is likely that few who hear it will walk away from the second album by the Fat White Family, released on their own label Without Consent, not caring one way or the other.
Some will hail this hair-raising, pulse-quickening and indignant collection of glitterball disco, smacked out psych, glam funk, heart-breaking torch songs and otherworldly slabs of Kraut n’ western as the shot in the arm that independent rock has been ailing after. And a shot in the arm is exactly what this album is. For if modern indie rock, DIY, alt-country – call it what you will – is sick, then the Fat Whites are the pretty nurse with Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy, pushing down the plunger on the syringe; murdering the bed-ridden patient with a tainted injection right under everyone’s noses. They have witnessed an entire musical scene teetering on the verge of terminal irrelevancy and given it a hard shove void-wards.
And the dark irony is that physically, mentally and psychically the band nearly disintegrated themselves long before they got chance to deliver the goods. After working so hard on the band for so long, when it looked like their time was finally here, frontman Lias had no intention of letting three serious illnesses one after another stop them from having their moment. “I had pneumonia and was coughing up blood at one point… I thought I was done for”, he says, “It was a result of snorting and drinking every day and living at the Queens [their one time Brixton pub HQ] but then instead of recuperating going out on a really long tour and ending up in a really bad way.”