Arguably their most enthralling album to date
Yasmin Cowan
11:50 23rd April 2019

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Fat White Family have returned, fixed up and looking a little sharper, after three years of spin-off projects, rehab and soul-searching. From a band who thrives on controversy and prides themselves on being as ostentatiously offensive as possible, Serfs Up! is a far subtler nod to their societal contempt and hunger for chaos, while still maintaining their ability to crawl under your skin. Serfs Up! shows signs of The Fat Whites evolving from their past frenzied debauchery and sheer, putrid imagery of their second album, Songs For Our Mothers, famously riddled with Nazi references and heroin allusions. Instead, they have gravitated towards something more shrewdly sublime and calculated, which is a more astute observation of the world they find themselves in. 

Having relocated to Sheffield, away from the torrid temptations of the big smoke, core members Lias and Nathan Saoudi were joined by a seemingly cleaner Saul Adamczewski to create this hypnotic, baroque-pop record infused with psychedelic charm and glam rock sensibility. The grudging lead track ‘Feet’, is a skin-tingling, disco of death accompanied by the sticky and sinister intonations of lead singer Lias. ‘Vagina Dentata’, derived from folklore pertaining to a toothed vagina capable of castrating its victims, is an unexpected contradiction to its biting name as it fizzes gently into a hazy melody, backed by rippling sound effects. ‘Fringe Runner’ picks up the mood with a tantalizingly danceable beat and warped guitars. The subsequent uncharacteristically uplifting tracks, ‘Oh Sebastian' and ‘Tastes Good with the Money’, echoes elements of glam-rock pioneer, Marc Bolan, both in the sound and body of the songs. This slightly sprightly spirit is however fairly short-lived, as the record closes with the ghostly and paranoiac tendencies of ‘When I Leave’ and the fuzzy, marijuana-infused miasma of ‘Bobby’s Boyfriend’both tracks oddly mesmerising and indescribably uncomfortable in nature…

The Fat White Family agenda lies in their propensity for mockery and madness, which slithers and slides around this record, making it an unsettling yet rapturous listen. Whilst they make no effort, nor appear to have any intention of entering the libraries of mainstream music listeners, this record has undoubtedly opened themselves up to a slightly wider audience. Serfs Up! is a little easier on the ears and the mind than their former records, perhaps as a result of softer substances and a minor amount of self-care. It’s safe to say that their third and arguably most enthralling album to date possesses a level of captivating refinement, previously unseen from these bric-à-brac provocateurs. 

Serfs Up! Is out now via Domino.

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