Did you know there are several sites dedicated to obese people of a gothic persuasion on the internet? Maybe that's where Dundee three-piece Fat Goth got the idea for their name. Or maybe it's some kind of in-joke hovering around the Tayshire borders from whence they originate. Whatever their excuse, one listen to the band's second long player, Stud, would suggest they're more than serious about their art despite the silly moniker.
Having first got together in 2007, it took a further three years for the band to release their debut Mindless Crap to an unsuspecting if mildly enthusiastic loyal band of followers back home. Several releases since not to mention an emigration enforced line-up change; original bass player Allan Mitchell left in 2011 to go travelling, replacement Kevin Black joining founder members Fraser Stewart (vocals/guitars) and Mark Keiller (drums) to complete the trio.
Since then, they've steadily built up a following north of the border largely due to their frenetic, occasionally shambolic but never dull live performances. While obvious comparisons can be made with the likes of Mclusky or Pulled Apart By Horses - the short sharp shock of 'We Film The Champs Elysees' bears many similarities to PABH's first record - there's a lot more depth and studied reference points here than Stud's scrappy surface initially suggests.
Imagine The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster tackling The Jesus Lizard's 'Zachariah' and you're not far off experiencing the guttural retort of 'Surf's Down'. It's not quite garage, never really punk and not self-obsessed enough to be metal yet sits perilously close to all three, shaking several loose hairs and cuts of frayed denim in the process. Meanwhile 'Debbie's Dirty Harry' comes effortlessly schooled in sarcasm and classic rock. Constructed around a gargantuan riff that gradually erupts into a tirade of thunderous power chords, Stewart uttering the immortal line "Rock isn't dead!" during the song's final third.
'Creepy Lounge' could be Killing Joke or even lamented rock'n'roll throwbacks Gallon Drunk in a parallel universe. As for here and now, it sounds wondrous, albeit in the context of a b-movie credits closer. And so Stud continues for the most part, the majority of its nine pieces seemingly in competition to out riff each other with as much menacing brute force as possible.
But it's on the exceptions to the rule - such as album midpoint and ultimate standout 'Pinball Moron' - that Fat Goth come into their element. Taking the form of a semi-acoustic country twang more accustomed to the style of Bonnie Prince Billy than Queens Of The Stage, 'Pinball's male/female vocals work well with Fraser Stewart playing the part of a frazzled Lee Hazelwood alongside Hazey Janes singer-cum-guitarist Alice Marra's Nancy Sinatra. While we're not suggesting for one second that Fat Goth should cut down on the riffage or the decibels, 'Pinball Moron' strikes a chord as a pleasantly surprising and utterly welcome antidote to all that surrounds it.
Closer 'A Nasty Piece Of Work' also opts for a more considered approach, this time in the form of a winsome death march. Which, bearing in mind the eleven-minutes long, three-songs-in-one, monolith that is 'Bang Tidy' has just bludgeoned what's left of one's hearing and senses to their very care, makes it a subtle necessity.
By no means perfect then, but as an introduction to the pun-happy, riff-heavy world of Fat Goth, Stud is an invitingly vigorous place to start.
7Dom Gourlay's Score