The cover is a painting of the two of them grinning while surrounded by children, designed to look like a North Korean propaganda painting.
With the album itself, there’s a veneer of happiness and hope, but something feels very off about it. The Sean Lennon-produced album is full of chirpy keyboard melodies, memorable hooks and vaudevillian flourishes. Although, the darkness of most Fat White Family songs is never far away.
Opener ‘Subaru Nights’ is easily the best thing here, a hypnotic, keyboard-led song that would sound blissful if it wasn’t for the occasional note that sounds like rotting. It evokes David Lynch’s vision where everything is too light and beautiful. It seems so overly insistent everything is fine it becomes clear that everything is not. Instead of Lynch’s squeaky-clean American suburbia though, the album is more reminiscent of British light entertainment, particularly from the 1970s.
‘Teenage Toy’ is nearly as catchy, and reminds me of Denim’s great ‘Back in Denim’, another 70s-obsessed album, which featured two members of The Glitter Band. This brings us to ‘Mekong Glitter’, a song about a pop pervert’s trip to South-East Asia, and one of the album’s dodgier moments.
Lines like ‘yellow fever on your knees’ are unpleasant, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However after the brilliant unease of the first few songs it feels like a horror film where the first hour was spent effectively suggesting horror then giving in to show you the monster, all fear and intrigue evaporating. The monster on this one was Gary Glitter all along. Get it?
Average ballad ‘Whitney Houston & I,’ is sung from the perspective of Houston’s daughter Bobbi Brown. It opens with the line ‘Whitney Houston and I both like a hot bath.’ Unfortunately it crumbles under the weight of its own subject matter pretty quickly after that.
At times, the songs come across like the band are simultaneously trying too hard and not trying hard enough. It’s like Insecure Men are trying to provoke but got their ideas from Sickipedia page headings or Cards Against Humanity answers. Good songs could be written about Gary Glitter and the deaths of Whitney Houston and Bobbi Brown, but here these ideas lapse.