The Fat White Family

Songs for Our Mothers

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On their first album, Fat White Family sounded like they could be a group of bitter, homeless alcoholics who took to making music on battered gear found in a house where they were squatting. Three years later, the group made something of a creative shift; on 2016's Songs for Our Mothers, those winos have purchased a cheap but reliable rhythm machine and started dabbling in club music. Granted, "Whitest Boy on the Beach" and "Hits Hits Hits" are the only tunes where they make full use of their new toy, but the queasy face-off between the proto-disco groove on "Whitest Boy" and the sickly wheeze of the group's vocals (mixed low enough to make most of the lyrics unintelligible) is made to order for a band that enjoys making people uncomfortable. And while "Hits Hits Hits" is too slow for the dancefloor, the song's references to domestic violence (including invoking the names of Ike and Tina) should leave most listeners utterly appalled. Fat White Family's fearless embrace of bad taste and misanthropy was one of the hallmarks of their debut, Champagne Holocaust, and on Songs for Our Mothers they seem grimly determined to up the ante. Ultimately they hit their target, thanks to numbers like "Love Is the Crack," "Duce," and the closing "Goodbye Goebbels" (the latter imagining the final conversation between Hitler and his most loyal associate), but there seems to be less gusto in Fat White Family's second round; the results leave no doubt that these guys have little to no use for the human race, but they toss about their bile with a more lethargic spirit, as if they've fallen deep enough into their bender to succumb to their own cynicism. One track truly stands out -- "Tinfoil Deathstar," a tale of drug abuse that has enough life in it to suggest Fat White Family might actually care about heroin as a scourge. Otherwise, Songs for Our Mothers indicates Fat White Family still want to annoy you, but they're only going to put real effort into it for so long.

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