F.A.N.T.A. – El Paciente Cero EP

On their sixth album, 2017 LP ‘Mas Rapido!’, Spanish punks F.A.N.T.A. cranked out seventeen high octane belters in under thirty five minutes. The breakneck pace with which almost everything was delivered made it entirely possible to forget most of the lyrics weren’t in English. In fact, most of the album’s greatness often came from the playing itself: between a barrage of fast guitar chords and some pretty smart bass work – sometimes reminiscent of an early 80s Dee Dee Ramone – F.A.N.T.A. arguably gave the world their first true masterpiece; an album that really capitalised on the sounds of the previous release (2014’s ‘Asi No Vamos A Ninguna Parte’) and an obviously huge leap from their earlier, more raw work.

Their 2021 EP ‘El Paciente Cero’ features a pair of tunes that date back to the ‘Mas Rapido!’ era, given a belated release via the Jarama 45RPM Recs label (previously home to Outtacontroller and the excellent Honeychain). As with the album, both tracks represent some absolutely top grade Ramonescore. In under two minutes ‘Paciente Cero’ delivers a great riff borrowed from ‘Pleasant Dreams’ era Ramones which, when coupled with a stronger pop-edged melody and Spanish lyric, more than stands up on its own merits. The vocals are underscored with some subtle harmonies which really flesh out the sound, and a Jughead inflected guitar part creeping in towards the end really shows how F.A.N.T.A. value a multi-layed sound despite first impressions suggesting their work is merely hard and fast “Ramones by numbers”. The chorus takes a few spins to stick – partly due to a lack of English lyric – but Oscar’s ease with a melody and strong delivery certainly make up for that, whilst the rhythm section (Gabi on bass and Beto on drums) work a tight riff throughout. It’s amazing that so much can be delivered in such a short duration, especially with this number also featuring an extended intro where the vocals and instrumentation sounds as if it’s been beamed in via a detuned radio. Overall, despite this track being a little poppier than most, it could easy stand up alongside ‘Mas Rapido!’s best moments.

For the bigger Ramones fan, ‘Yo Nunca Tuve a Nadie Como Tu’ will be another real treat, since it takes the core of Joey & Johnny’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend’ and applies it to a couple of The Queers’ more bubblegum oriented works. Throughout the number, Oscar’s overdriven chords dominate but carry a timeless sound, while the rhythm section do a top job of lending weight to a mid tempo groove. With the vocal rising during a mid-section and the introduction of wedding bell sounds during the second half, there’s more than enough going on to stop the tried and tested approach sounding stale, and by finding time for a few backing vocals that borrow a melody from Mickey & Sylvia’s ‘Love Is Strange’ (a tune with a cheese factor that definitely wouldn’t have been lost on Ramones or any of their later copyists), it’s a very well-rounded performance.

This is seriously good. Sure, it doesn’t think too far beyond the usual remit of strongly Ramones-influenced punk, but it doesn’t need to. It’s packed with riffs, hooks and plenty of the cocksure style necessary to make their Ramonescore so appealing. As before, the music and melodic drive is so strong, you don’t need to be fluent in Spanish to have fun when listenung. …And if this appeals – which for fans of the style, it almost certainly will – be sure to backtrack to ‘Mas Rapido!’ and give that a listen too. You won’t be sorry.

August 2021