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Fat White Family’s first album Champagne Holocaust was released on April 1, 2013; an iconoclastic debut, a freakshow which reminded that, as with Throbbing Gristle/The Gun Club/Butthole Surfers/Jane’s Addiction before them, the outside is the only viable place from which to make true art. America beckoned, and all the temptations and troubles that go with the touring life. The carousel began to spin. When second album Songs For Our Mothers arrived in January 2016, the band were running on fumes. Incarcerated in a fiscal Gulag, every single member had developed serious problems with alcohol and/or hard drugs; most were homeless. They were just about held together by singer Lias Saoudi who had led, Rommel-like, from day one. Saoudi’s songwriting partner and band director Saul Adamczewski had been jettisoned from the band. Salvation came via the intervention of Domino, who signed the band and backed their frontman’s stratagem to move them away from temptation. In a sprawling suburb in the North of England they established Champzone studios and, bloodied but not unbowed, they hunkered down. The collective mission statement: to make a pop record, something to distance the band from the many Fat Whites imitators who had formed in their wake. Lias’ lyrical irony, previously adopted as a protective layer against insecurity and criticism, was discarded in favour of a forensic examination of the self, what the frontman describes as “a genuine mapping out of my innermost psychological landscape, without ever patronising the listener, which for me is the lowliest crime in lyricism.” Nathan Saoudi, Lias’ keyboard playing brother, honed his own songwriting contributions, and Adamczewski returned from both rehab and time working with his other band Insecure Men - freed from the past burdens of musically carrying the project, he sank his teeth in as producer-arranger. With the smoke cleared and the battlefield-free of casualties, Fat White Family re-emerge triumphant. Serfs Up! is a lush and masterful work, lascivious and personal. Tropical, sympathetic and grandiose. It invites the listener in rather than repel them through wilful abrasion. In one of the most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in living musical memory, the band you hate to love have stormed the palace, ceased the throne, and are set to embark are on their imperial phase as overlords of a kingdom of their own making. The struggle continues, always, but for now… Serfs Up!