Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Album Review: The Phantom Band – The Wants

This Scottish band have just released their 2nd album. On first listen it sounds very “now”, with a lot going on in the songs, sounding like a crazy mish-mash of Arcade Fire and Grizzly Bear, with a bit of Super Furry Animals thrown in. By this I mean the way they take seemingly disparate elements and blend them to make an interesting and engaging song.

The opening track A Glamour is a perfect example of this. It opens with the sound a blunt knife scraping on a piece of wood, then some African-sounding percussion leads into a stomping beat with high-pitched whoops before the singer comes in, sounding foreboding as his deep voice croons “I was foraging…” O continues in a similar vein, with an almost electro beat seeming almost incongruous with a singer who sounds like Nick Cave’s Scottish cousin.

After the playful sounding Everybody Know It’s True, the pace slows down for the epic The None Of One. It starts off with gentle folky guitar and banjo for 3 minutes or so before exploding into life with propulsive beats, synths and vibes. The most straightforward and shortest track is Come Away In The Dark which is a very pretty song, all longing vocals, picked guitars and piano.

One of the strongest tracks comes later in the album. After starting with what can only be described as ‘squelching noises’, Into the Corn is a brooding track slightly reminiscent of the National, with the regretful refrain “into the corn I fled… everyone I knew there was dead” building towards a climax at the end.

The album finishes with Goodnight Arrow, which starts out serenely, evolving into a floating before ending on a nice crescendo. There’s a lot going on these songs, and at times it’s more a case of standing back and admiring them, rather than loving them, but nevertheless I think people are going to be hearing a lot of these guys.