The Phantom Band: The Wants (Chemikal Underground) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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The Phantom Band

The Wants

Chemikal Underground

Oct 22, 2010 Issue #33 - Fall 2010 - Interpol Bookmark and Share


The Phantom Band released one of 2009's truly underrated records in Checkmate Savage. A captivating hodgepodge of Tom Waits-like junkshop instrumentation, Krautish rhythms, and a Will Oldham-infused folk fascination, the record hopscotched dramatically stylistically, but still cohered into a satisfying whole. Save a high-profile endorsement from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, the record seemed to come and go without making even a minor ripple in the U.S indie scene. On their follow-up, The Wants, the band retain many of the sonic signatures that made their debut so satisfying, but they tighten up their songwriting screws considerably, crafting a record decidedly more immediate, and better, than Checkmate.

Case in point is "Everybody Knows It's True," a song that evinces the act's trademark motorik percussion, but ups the ante with two-part "ooh ah" backing vocals over Rick Anthony's eerie incantations. And when he sings the titular refrain, "Everybody knows it's true," the words are transmogrified into something even more sinister through the use of a distorted microphone, a trick copped from the playbook of the late Mark Linkous.

"The None of One" is the record's magnum opus, a stunning number built on a simple acoustic guitar melody that builds glacially, adding instruments on top of one another like Lego blocks until it veers into crepuscular, synth-driven New Order territory, with squiggly moog-ish flourishes not dissimilar to mid-period Stereolab.

This song perhaps best exhibits the exceedingly egalitarian ethos at the heart of this sextet, and certainly pushes their idiosyncratic impulses in a more pop direction. But it's barbed, twisted pop, as skewed as any of their aforementioned influences, which they channel with eccentric élan throughout this absolute gem of an album. (www.phantomband.co.uk)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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John Richards
October 23rd 2010
11:28am

great album but my rating has not been recorded properly - recording system stuttered and closed before I had entered anything!