Any album that makes you worry about yourself is worth exploring. It’s even better if it’s excruciatingly cool in the process. Enter Songs For Our Mothers, Fat White Family’s latest brew of eerie themes set to hypnotic, meandering grooves; a record that would sooner take a trip to another dimension than take a spin on your turntable. When it’s not channeling retro luaus, old westerns, and broken-down carnival rides, the vibe conjures up scenes from the cutting room floor of a Kubrick film. But it’s the Nazi references that really give it an edge – and give you more than a few things to think about.
First you figure out that you dig it, then you wonder if you should. Wistful songs like “Lebensraum” (“living room” – the base concept that morphed into Nazi Germany’s radical ideology of territorial expansion) and “Goodbye Goebbels” (an adieu to the Reich Minister of Propaganda who succeeded Hitler as Chancellor for a day, then poisoned his six children and committed suicide) show some undeniable motifs. And you’re left hoping that it’s more of a statement than a tribute, because it just sounds so damn good.
As you grapple with feelings of doublethink and try not to dance to the Holocaust parts, the wobbly melodies plunk ahead at leisure and beg to be loved. Lias Saoudi’s familiar, frenetic vocals seal the deal; a reassuring pulse as each track unravels. On songs like “When Shipman Decides” and the standout “Hits Hits Hits,” Fat White Family yank in some of the jangliest, silliest elements of surf rock and sailor songs to ease you into your emotional wipeout. On darker numbers like “Love Is The Crack,” “Duce,” and “We Must Learn To Rise,” there’s real suffering in the sound, layered like red meat between slips of filmy, grey butcher paper.
Fat White Family have built a nonstop, sit-down kind of album that grips you all the way through its strangely elegant finish. And like an M.C. Escher staircase, you find yourself running up and down with them in endless loops, wondering which way to turn. But where Songs For Our Mothers really triumphs is in its ability to take you somewhere totally new – even if you’d prefer not to know where that is.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Cover Image: Shayne Hanley