When I first heard Fat White Family’s debut album Champagne Holocaust, four years ago, I knew that I was listening to the most important band of that time. Heavily influenced by The Fall and The Country Teasers – the Fat Whites created an album, that certainly lyrically, was much more interesting than anything else at the time.
As well as the electric live shows, the band’s follow up: ‘Songs For Our Mothers’ cemented their status as the most interesting band in the UK. So when I discovered the songwriting partnership of the South London band, singer Lias Saoudi and guitarist Saul Adamczewski, had begun a side project, I was eager to find out what other musical interests they were influenced by.
Saoudi, who adopts the alter ego of fictional narcissist Jonny Rocket on the album, and Adamczewski, have teamed up with Sheffield electro-duo, Eccentronic Research Council, to create The Moonlandingz’ synth-pop driven debut album Interplanetary Class Classics. The album also features Yoko Ono, whose son and friend of the band, Sean, deploys psychedelic guitar on the track ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’. Rebecca Taylor of Snow Club, drummer Ross Orton, bassist Mairead O’Connor and Randy Jones, the cowboy from The Village People, complete the line-up.
The album opener ‘Vessels’ begins with heavy drumming and Saoudi’s low vocals drenched with fuzzy guitar that eventually leads to the front-man returning to the voice that served him so well on Fat Whites’ debut in the chorus. Like ‘Vessels’, tracks such as ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’ and ‘Black Hanz’ are undeniably catchy pop tunes, where the lyrics apply the same sinister, ironic outlook Saoudi has used many times. For example, in ‘I.D.S’, written about everyone’s favourite bastard Iain Duncan Smith, Saoudi expresses his displeasure at Duncan’s policies, singing: “40,000 years of job club.”
Saoudi channels his inner Lou Reed on the album’s best track, ‘The Strangle Of Anna’, paying homage to Reed’s New York band with they lyric: “I made you listen to Sunday morning, you spit it out across the parquet flooring.” The song also has elements of The Velvet Underground’s ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’, with Rebecca Taylor’s impressive PJ Harvey-like vocals. The Moonlandingz wrap it up with Yoko Ono wailing on the electronically-led ‘The Cities Undone’, which also features The Human League’s Phil Oakey.
This album, musically, doesn’t offer anything too original, but nothing does these days, it seems fairly impossible. But in an era where most popular music makes me want to die, it’s refreshing to see the likes of Saoudi not pretending to be a wild original or taking himself too seriously. And much like the Fat Whites, The Moonlandingz’ debut is lyrically, heads and shoulders above the majority of the landfill-indie that occupies popular guitar music today.