Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Phantom Planet -- Phantom Planet
Epic/Daylight; 2003

The third and newest album from Phantom Planet is an eye-opening departure from their patent sound. Although best known for their sunny power pop, clean, Weezer-ish guitar riffs and odes to The Golden State, it seems the band has had enough of the beach and has taken a new path to dirtier, more abrasive pastures.

The band's new found scuzziness is a concoction of the brash post-punk attitude of The Fall and Wire and the dusty fuzz tone of garage rock kings, The Stooges. Despite these admirable influences, Phantom Planet have managed to make a record that sounds, well, very much like The Strokes.

It's somewhat impressive how well Phantom Planet mimics New York's favorite sons. Album opener "The Happy Ending" sounds like its guitar line was lifted off the Is This It master tapes with love and rusty pliers. Vocalist Alex Greenwald proves that practice pays off as he imitates Casablanca's "too lazy to pay the rent" delivery with the exact same lack of joie de vivre on "Badd Business," "Making a Killing," and "The Meantime." To round out their cribbed sound they even include drum machine-precise rhythms, courtesy of Jason Schwarztman (replaced post-recording by Jeff Conrad).

Even though the band now sounds like the west coast step-brothers of The Strokes, Phantom Planet has a few quirks that make it a worthwhile listen. The driving force of many of the album's tracks is Sam Farrar's fierce bassline which can both boogie and bombard. The band experiments with dissonance on the pounding "You're Not Welcome Here" with a surprisingly pleasant result. The bitter break up lyrics are circled by nashing guitars and swathed in feedback, perfectly portraying Greenwald's crushed state.

The crown jewel of Phantom Planet is "Big Brat," the album's first single. Everything from punchy saxophone to blistering drum programming to crackling bass to waffle irons to god-knows-what-else is utilized to its fullest. The end result turns an otherwise silly song (with an excellent, yet sillier video) into a turbulent debauchery anthem.

The problem that Phantom Planet runs into with discarding their signature sound for one akin to The Strokes is twofold. Fans expecting the band to reprise their sun-soaked success from The Guest may be turned off by the abrasive nature of their musical U-turn. In addition, Phantom Planet offers little innovation from what The Strokes have championed for two albums. Why should consumers buy this instead of Room On Fire?

For one, Phantom Planet is still filled with dark and catchy tunes, even if they aren't particularly groundbreaking. There's also a certain curiosity listeners have about bands that can make 180 degree turns in style, and Phantom Planet may pick up listeners on that merit. Still, these fingers-crossed hopes don't necessarily erase the fact that Phantom Planet nicks aggressively from their peers and may be too different for their fans to swallow without hesitation.

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

0 Responses to “”

Leave a Reply

      Convert to boldConvert to italicConvert to link


I Got Love For

ATOM 0.3

Establish Contact:

Previous posts


Add to your Kinja digest