If you haven’t heard of UK psychobilly band The Top Fuellers, you are forgiven. The band was recently born from Stretch (The Highliners, Shrinking Violets) and Dave Deville (Optic Nerves, Klingonz, Vulture Squadron and The Highliners) and favours a very strong old school psychobilly flare. Their analogue-style heart channels a vinyl-era mentality that embraces all sorts of audiological flaws and imperfections that come to life across their debut full length, Psychos On The Beach’s, thirteen track run. The Top Fuellers feel lively and authentic, born of a certain off kilter humour and charm that screams of their London/Essex origins.
Put lightly, The Top Fuellers embody British pub culture. Each of their songs feel like they must have been a little tipsy during the writing and recording process. In other words, they spare no expense at making Psychos On The Beach an incredibly fun record. Armed with a screeching alto-sax and frontman Stretch’s heavily accented, reverberating vocal beginnings, opener “Truth Be Told” seeks a balance between distorted guitar and hot-rod dragster rock n’ roll. But these aren’t the makings of muscle car meatheads. Rather, as seen with the hippity hop of bass and alto saxophone of “Don’t Let It get you Down” and “Hot Rod Drags,” there’s more of a prankster-esque, Benny Hill chase-scene shimmy to the beat that succeeds at making just about everything one big ongoing joke.
There are so many curious abstractions tying Psychos On The Beach together that it’s hard to describe without surveying the bulk of the track list. For those unfamiliar, Stretch sings in an almost out of tune way, like many of the European psychobilly greats of the past twenty years, with a definite likeness to the over the top personality of The Krewmen, Mad Dog Cole and even Long Tall Texans. For instance, a song like “Idaho” and the instrumental accompaniment of “La NotteDei Serpenti” harness the twang in their distorted riffs and draw upon a a heavy spaghetti western flare. “They called him Idahoooo!” stumbles Stretch to the sound of a few six shooters firing in the background as he rambles on about the legacy of a western gunslinger. The chorus is oddly singable and wholly entertaining. Then there’s the title track’s surf rhythm, which when paired with the ever-present alto sax, makes for what you might consider a groovy good time. The style really makes its mark in “Psychobilly Hair,” which holds nothing back in reminding listeners how awesome the genre’s awesome top-heavy aesthetic should be regarded. It’s an easy candidate for some sort of psychobilly pride anthem.
The remainder of the album rambles on about pub life (“Snakebite”), girls and booze (“Truth Be Told”) and strange little fixations. The weirdest of the bunch, a cautionary tale by the name of “The Nun’s Got Plums,” cheekily tells about a fruit-stand selling, cross dressing nun that “sells fruit but that’s not all.” As previously mentioned, The Top Fuellers are all about fun, and they definitely deliver as they plug away on their distorted guitars and alto sax through country, rockabilly, punk and the lot.
While many psychobilly bands get hung up on the “horror” aspect of the genre (i.e. Nekromantix, The Meteors, etc…), The Top Fuellers find their way without leaning on such a crutch. That Psychos On The Beach can get so downright zany and instrumentally loose while maintaining the fun and attention of listeners makes for an undeniably good time. The Top Fuellers are a product of the British psychobilly scene; that alone will likely dictate who takes to Psychos On The Beach. But if it’s your thing, you’ll definitely want to hop on board of this raucous raceway.