Finding the right balance between comedy and music can be a difficult task; too much humour and the music loses credibility. As such, Salt Lake City’s scrap metal merchants, Charlatan walk a fine line on ‘Remarkable’, and every so often stray into the territory of comedy overkill, despite their musical excellence.
Album opener ‘Sevier County Killer’ plays like a soundtrack to a Tarantino western – there’s even a touch of banjo – and is quality, frantic fun. There’s more tongue-in-cheekiness on the straight-ahead alternative rock ‘Bag of Tricks’, which drops a cool hook in the chorus, and it’s immediately evident that there’s plenty of variety to their songs.
‘Variety’ is actually an understatement; almost every track is completely different. We get smooth pop grooves delivered with panache on ‘Instant Cult Classic’ and hyper spaghetti core on ‘Ray Gun’, while closing track ‘Remarkable’ is stacked with beats and electro touches.
Sandwiched in between are a number of other truly excellently-crafted songs; their composition skills nothing short of brilliant. Take the cool swagger of ‘Slavior’, with its sideswipe at religion, it’s a killer tune, as is ‘China’, a straighter, slower, brooding slice of alt-rock, which really nails it. However, it feels like a waste of talent to be such a novelty act; ‘The Sick Nasty’, for example, is a great song with a superb hook to the chorus, but the humour is so passionate that it’s a little hard to take.
In general, this is a surprisingly high-quality record, how well it stands up and how much you’ll get out of it will depend on your sense of humour.
‘Remarkable’ by Charlatan is released on 7th April on Revival Recordings.
Words by Edward Layland (@EdwardLayland)