Rod Liddle Rod Liddle

Fat White Family’s new album is much, much better than I had feared

Forgiveness is Yours retains their signature scuzzy sonic madness but there are also glimmers of what one might term, if one was slightly unwell, beauty

Grade: A-

The irresistibly catchy – if you are not quite right in the head – ‘Touch The Leather’ was probably my favourite single of the previous decade, aided by a video which was simultaneously marvellously seedy, threatening and infantile. ‘Left-wing skin on the right-wing leather – touch the leather leather…’ Well it did it for me, and so I set great stock by these scrofulous squat-dwelling skaggies from Brixton, until with every subsequent dim-witted release the notion began to embed itself that they weren’t, actually, very good. ‘Touch The Leather’ was maybe just one of those glorious singular flukes you find in pop music by performers who aren’t really up to much.

I might have to revise that opinion a little. Sure, they will never be Gershwin or even McCartney, and would probably in any case cleave to Captain Beefheart’s dictum that ‘songs’ are a bourgeois sell-out. But this album is pitched closer to the mainstream – hell, there is even a flute on the slightly pompous retro disco of ‘Bullet of Dignity’ – and while the scuzzy sonic madness has been retained, there are occasional glimmers of what one might term, if one was slightly unwell, beauty.

The melody lines are still largely monotone, for sure. But I had not expected the fabulous, bleary, Waitsian swoon of ‘Visions of Pain’ and still less the comparatively chipper, cute disco of ‘What’s That You Say?’, which, if it was given a good wash and dressed properly, could conceivably trouble the charts.

They have apparently got themselves clean recently, which is usually bad news musically. But this is much, much better than I had feared.