Originally released under the name Biscuit Boy aka Crackerman, Fat Chance
is the debut solo album from Paul Heaton, the singer and songwriter for the Beautiful South
. As such, Heaton knows a thing or two about writing a clever pop tune, and Fat Chance
is packed with them. Heaton claims this side project is a "sound thing rather than a lyric thing", but lyrics are still his strong point, and here they pack as much bite as his work with the Beautiful South. And though this is technically a solo project, he's not going completely alone, with help coming from Martin Slattery and Scott Shields (from Joe Strummer
's backing band the Mescaleros), two of his Beautiful South colleagues David Rotheray and Damon Butcher and regular Beautiful South producer Jon Kelly.
The result is a sound that's altogether brighter, jauntier and looser than that of the Beautiful South, but with lyrics that touch upon the familiar themes of the loves, lives and dramas of the over-30 set. So on "Mitch", he backs the story of a bachelor facing the prospect of dying alone with a thoroughly modern and catchy arrangement, including scratching and somehow makes it work (i.e., he doesn't sound like a sad, middle-aged man "doing it for the kids"). "If", meanwhile, is a danceable, sing-along attack on hypocritical do-gooders. Fat Chance is pop of the highest order, the perfect companion piece to the best work of the Beautiful South. --Robert Burrow