A marvelous cover sees Super Adventure Club being scared by an advancing Cerne Abbas Giant in all his priapic glory. From this we should be able to quickly discern that Chalk Horror is no ordinary record. The hysteria and otherness that is suggested on the cover is delivered in spades by the music; opening track In the Wee Wee Hours has got to be one of the most over-the-top starts to any record in years. An uncomfortable and hyperactive mélange of Soft Boys, Cardiacs, Alex Harvey, Beefheart & Gong, the track dips and sways through a multitude of time and textural changes with remarkable aplomb. When things get a bit too much to work out, the singer just screams. Giddy stuff indeed. There are some very, very funny moments: Math Rock – veering between fey cabaret and explosive shouty choruses, with some enjoyably bitchy lyrics thrown in - somehow dismisses the entire genre as a bad teenage practical joke, and about time, in my books.
It’s not all bumps and tumbles: Built In Redundancy is a jazzy stroll (sounding like a fey, Postcard version of Chattanooga Choochoo, despite the jumpy guitar break) The track about Tommy Sheridan is worth your money alone: quite what Mr S has done to deserve such an ear-shredding amalgam of riffs and silly voices is beyond me. Everything escalates beyond all reason by the end with some weird guitar/keyboard effects. Fantastic and nearly unbearable. The lurid nature of this record (oh what I would give to see this LP as the soundtrack to a musical) shines through on the slacker conversation, Sloth on TV, (I haven’t got the lyrics to hand but Jabba the Hut’s in there), a track which also boasts some very daft falsetto backing vocals. And 17th Century Ambassador of Strong Swimmers feels like four songs welded together in a rude, ready-made fashion. Not that the band care.
Sharkey and George continues the comedy horror, with Super Adventure Club coming on like some gloriously over the top, glam/prog Burke & Hare tribute act. Some People is a veritable rollercoaster ride of noise and sound effects, which builds quite majestically towards a fittingly uncompromising end.
Daft as owt in its outlook, and with the band throwing references around like confetti at a wedding, Chalk Horror has to be one of my favourite records of the year, no doubt about it.