by Richard Archer
Charla Fantasma have a slightly cartoonish quality to them, although it feels like a cartoon could be based on them rather than the other way around. Their brash pop songs are funny and quirky in a way that never presents as contrived, and as such there are no cloying side-effects either. For confirmation of their odd charm, look no further than their tale of zombie-related tardiness ‘Late for Work’ – “I turn on my computer as my manager hands me another compliant/ I turn round to ignore him but his breath smells of brains”!
They rock hard too. From the opener ‘Aint Nobody Sure’ onwards the band musters up a mean chug, pushing the guitars way up front in the mix. But the gangs’ secret weapon is their vocal arrangements, at various points we get counter-melodies from drummer Camille Fry and bass thumper Elsa Vincent, a lot of tuneful aaah-ings in the background and some lovely group shout-a-longs.
Consolidating the music is some excellent punk-packaging , (literally) spiky cover art, a fold-up lyric book insert and a cassette in a very pleasing light blue all make this worth the time and modest price tag.