Phantom Planet – Phantom Planet (Epic)
Don’t you just want to hate Phantom Planet? I mean, come on, the singer is a Gap model, for Christ’s sake! Their last album, The Guest, was a big fat disappointment, with the band insecurely trying to figure out whether they were the next big teen pop combo or a real fucking rock and roll band. While the songs on The Guest seemed like they might have been all right, the production reeked of radio-friendly, major-label polish. Except for that big hit, “California.” Now that was a jam! Good old Max Fischer beating the shit out of those drums like he was auditioning for the part of Keith Moon in an upcoming biopic. That was great! I bet they were good live.
Well, somewhere in between that album and this one, Max Fischer quit the band and started calling himself Jason Schwartzman. But who knows what his real name is because he’s just another Coppola like Nic Cage and the guy from Rooney. American showbiz dynasty there, yo. You’d think you’d miss his drumming on the new album since that was really the best part of The Guest. But the new drummer hits the drums even harder!
In the top social circles, people who know about these things are whispering that all the songs on Phantom Planet are secretly about how much the singer, Alex Greenwald, resents Schwartzman for quitting the group and allegedly stealing a bunch of the band’s cocaine while the rest of the band was sleeping. Just look at the titles: “The Happy Ending,” “Badd Business,” “Big Brat,” “Making a Killing,” “You’re Not Welcome Here,” “Knowitall.” That’s a lot of bitterness for a bunch of Hollywood pretty boys!
Especially when they made an album that sounds this good. The guitars are bigger and crunchier than ever. The drums are mixed up really loud and they sound monstrous. The vocal levels are where they should be for a band like this, unlike on The Guest where they were up way too loud and everything was too damn clean. This one has some feeling, some presence, some warmth.
Bottom line: if you think the Strokes are the perfect band but you wish that Julian would have some balls and ditch some of the distortion from his vocals (really dude, does it have to be on every song?), you’ll like this album.