While I think it has gotten better in the 2010s, I think it's understated how often poor sound engineering has held back an otherwise decent surf record. What we have here is the opposite story. Genki Genki Panic's previous releases weren't hampered by their production, but "Spooky Fingers" makes an amazing impression in an instant, setting a brand new idea of what this band is about.
Genki Genki Panic aren't the first horror surf band out there, and plenty have scronked out a fuzzy zombie-shuffle dirge. That familiar pattern and melody is still at the heart of, for instance, "Desecration", but there's such a gigantic wall of sound coming from that bass guitar that instead of just the zombie, we get the smoky nighttime scene as well. Buried in there subtle howls (I honestly can't even tell if they're keys or vox or what) adding a whole new level of cinematic flair. Sublety goes a long way, and I'd take this simple effect over the now-traditional method of a horror movie sound-clip.
This change isn't just a matter of dumping on tons of reverb (but it works wonders!), they've retooled their songwriting as well. They list The Ghastly Ones, Vic Mizzy, Danny Elfman, John Carpenter, and Ennio Morricone as influences on this one, and though I do feel a Carpenter sense of dread coming through, the off-kilter percussion of Danny Elfman is immediately apparent on "Phantom III '37". It's actually less goofy than Elfman, and totally nails the creepy, unknown vibe.
All of this and I forgot to talk about the damn guitar. Do I even need to? The 30 foot-tall monster it embodies makes itself apparent within the first few seconds of the record. It's absolutely violent, on the opener, frantic on "Two Girls, One Casket", and strange and dangerous on "When Bats Cry".
If it's not clear, Genki Genki Panic have outdone themselves to a stunning extent and perhaps even issued a challenge to a lot of horror surf musicians out there. The official release date of this is March 11th, but you can already download it and order the CD.