Phantom Planet - Phantom Planet

The biggest break of Phantom Planet's career was when teen drama The OC adopted one of their songs "California", taking them from a relatively obscure band to household names overnight. Before this stroke of good look Phantom Planet had released their debut album "The Guest" with original drummer Jason Schwartzman (best known as cult film actor in Rushmore and more recently in I Love Huckabees). He's since left to concentrate on his movie career. In fact all members of the band have appeared on the silver screen with lead singer Alexander Greenwalk in celluloid classic Donnie Darko.

Their new album is self-titled and was recorded in Fredoria New York and produced by David Fridman who has twiddled knobs in a manner of speaking for The Flaming Lips and Mogwai. It's a work far removed from the soft rock whimsy of California and is much more heavy rock, more Fugazi than Matchbox 20.

"Bit Brat" is the sound of a band angry at the world and venting their frustrations with barbaric, thrusting, unrelenting electric guitars from Jacques Braulbar with just the faintest hint of electonica. It's like The Strokes have travelled back to the 70s and jammed with a classic glam rock band. Greenwalds vocal is typical of a frontman attempting rock'n'roll cool with his lazy, mumbling couldn't care less attitude which is straight out of the Kings Of Leon back catalogue. The production is basic with a predictable shouty chorus.

"You're Not Welcome Here" has thundering drumming from reliable new sticksman Jeff Conrad. The dramatic sense of overblown theatrical playfulness put me in mind of Muse who are more adept at evoking such a sense of occasion. The lyrics are typically emo with pity me ruminations on the human condition. Nothing wrong with expressing a tormented state of mind, but for heavens sake lads, how about a semblance of a tune amongst all the angst

"Jabberjaw" has an incredible bass line from Sam Farrar, but the song sounds too familiar to really make you take notice. "You Never Listen To A Single Thing I Say" our mixed up non-conformist informs us. How can these gloom merchants sound so disaffected when they inhabit the sunshine state of LA. "The Meantime" is a bit funkier than previous efforts with U2 style riffs with a sneering vocal that is unnerving.

Are Phantom Planet actors playing the parts of rockstars or is it a diversion between auditions? This is such a by the numbers collection of songs performed by a competent band, but do they believe their own music or are they just pressing the right emotional buttons to enrapture their core audience to reap the rewards of fame and fortune.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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