Fat White Family roll into Glasgow town heralding the release of their new album Serf’s Up. Famed for their bleak humour mired with blasts of amplified electronic distortion, Serf’s Up has been touted as a move away from grotty proto-punk into the sensual (albeit still a bit grotty) psychedelia.
The band open tonight’s set with When I Leave from Serf’s Up. This pairs Casiotone keyboards, spaghetti western guitars and cooing backing vocals to produce a startling lovelorn sound that could loosely be described as a ballad.
Whether through dark humour, unflinching devotion to lyrical controversy, or musical experimentation Fat White Family’s goal appears to be stopping rock music from becoming a stale artform by attacking the established conventions of the genre. An older song, I Am Mark E. Smith (a tribute to one of their obvious forebearers) is an early highlight of the set with its swaggering rhythm and stupefying chorus.
Though Bobby’s Boyfriend feels underwritten, and one of the best songs on Serf’s Up – Kim’s Sunsets aren’t given an airing, the new songs mostly fit in seamlessly to Fat White Family’s well-established live favourites. The low rumbling White Lines influenced bassline of Fringe Runner showcases the new direction, as screaming vocals and dramatic keyboards add a twisted tension to proceedings.
The malevolent side of Fat White Family is apparent particularly in Feet, a song that refers to feelings of sexual confusion via a narrator who, while entrenched in various fetishes, can only picture a man’s member when he looks at the woman. Feet draws the focus to the odd but captivating way Lias (supporting a bold haircut – bald with ponytail) sings, screeching somehow even more from his nasal capacity than on record.