Review ‘Forgiveness is Yours’ by Fat White Family

Fat White Family are perhaps best known for their on-stage nudity and confrontational use of Nazi imagery in their work. Their 2019 album Serfs up!But they discovered that the south London provocateurs were finally putting as much effort into their music as they did into their public antics. On Forgiveness is yoursthe band continues to hone their songwriting and musicianship, with genre pastiches ranging from psychedelic folk (“John Lennon”), orchestral pop (“Religion for One”), conga-driven disco (“Bullet of Dignity”) and danceable post-punk (“Polygamy is for the Chief only”). Think of Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen and Pulp.

Singer Lias Saoudi uses a trendy sprechgesang on songs like ‘The Archivist’ and ‘Today You Became a Man’. Impressively, he spends that last song reading paragraphs of text, compellingly describing his older brother’s circumcision at the age of five (without anesthesia), accompanied by bouncing percussion and gurgling electronics. Saoudi speaks to his Algerian heritage with a signature barbed wire feel, his excitement heightened by the song’s erratic tempo.

Other songs start out melodic, but turn into more free-flowing chaos, as on “Polygamy Is Only for the Chief,” whose polished surface thrillingly dissolves into ragged sound. “Religion for One” rolls along more slowly, dripping bile through its beautiful melody and mist of choral vocals: “Spit out that cum / My patience is disappearing.” (One clever YouTuber summarized the vicious song as “Bob Dylan’s ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ as performed by Patrick Bateman.”)

Fat White Family may have dropped some of the more antagonistic aspects of their image and adopted a slightly slicker sound, but their anger is still very palpable. Music isn’t worth performing, they seem to suggest, if it doesn’t risk angering people, or at least challenge the listener’s complacency. Of Forgiveness is yoursSaoudi and his company achieve that goal – with a patina of refinement.


Label: Domino Date of publication: April 26, 2024 To buy: Amazon