Champagne Holocaust by Fat White Family (Album)

23 April, 2013 in Music Reviews

Fat White Family

Fat White Family deliver a blistering record, whose prickly lyrics and caustic rhythms will leave an indelible mark upon you

Champagne Holocaustat White Family aim to shock you. Emerging from squats in Brixton and Peckham they deliver a radical statement against modern culture and standards of decency in general. Their live shows are by all accounts anarchistic and bloody affairs, and their debut album achieves the same effect.

Characterised by lo-fi production, booming guitar lines and frequently underscored by human howling (see Raining In Your Mouth for the most unleashed, Frank Black howl). Much of the album contains stripped-back druggy campfire singalongs such as Borderline and Who Shot Lee Oswald? (which regards outlandish conspiracy theories over a detuned guitar). Meanwhile, the lack of polish on lullaby for the unhinged Wild American Prairie suggests Captain Beefheart.

Much more enjoyable is when the full band plug-in and they back their sinister darkness with individual and technically sound music. For example, Without Consent‘s percussive, funky backdrop smoulders like Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds, while its subject matter leaves the listener uneasy. Cream Of The Young has music that could score a Tarantino movie and, as with Quentin’s narratives, lyrics that are designed to cause discomfort. Meanwhile, Special Ape has a guitar line that swings while doing its best to drown out a chorus of screeching, and Heaven On Earth is a menacing beast of a song.

Penultimate number Bomb Disneyland had me thinking of Lykke Li’s Get Some, though I don’t think she’s ever sang “bomb Disneyland, all your kids are dead”. Finally, Garden Of The Numb’s ballad of hate raises a dark smile.

All the shambolic shock can’t disguise the fact that the music is original and the musicianship pretty eclectic. They’re never going to be cosily cornered in any scene but Fat White Family’s debut has enough originality and memorable moments to leave a indelible mark on your consciousness – and on 2013’s musical landscape.

Verdict: A debauched, modern-day Velvet Underground

Matt Nicholson

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