Phantom Planet – Plantom Planet

Phantom PlanetPhantom 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.

12 thoughts on “Phantom Planet – Plantom Planet”

  1. I love this album. I bought it just cos “Big Brat” is such a great song, and was pleased to find the rest of the tracks were actually good too. I’ve totally forgotten about that other Phantom band.

  2. In a venue like this site, “review” can mean a number of different things. He touches upon the music as well as the culture in which it is situated, which is a tradition that dates back to the earliest rock criticism. But by taking that tradition to the internet and allowing the general public to comment as well, GloNo is definitely advancing the field. Notice the Neil Young quote on the left – we don’t take ourselves THAT seriously. I haven’t heard the album, but if it DOES sound like the Strokes with clean vocals, then I’d say it’s a damn fine review. At the least you’ve gotta admit it has personality, and it does endorse the album, so can’t complain there, right?

  3. Yeah, I’ll second that, Nate. This review makes me at least want to listen to the album. That bit about crunchy guitars really got me.

  4. Personally, I like the new album a lot. Then again, I liked “The Guest” a lot too. So maybe I’m just a Phantom Planet fan.

  5. Phantom Planet’s complete trashing of its own past is very irritating. There’s no question that the record is a bit of a response to their intra-band turmoil, but that doesn’t explain why “Happy Ending” sounds EXACTLY like the Strokes. Did I say exactly? I meant fucking exactly. From the arrangement to the production to the way Greenwald sings, minus – as Jake says – a bit of the mic distortion, that song and its brethren have quick cash-in written all over their skinny jeans.

    Jake’s right about the debut’s overly lush production. But despite sounding like a senior project at the Elvis Costello School for Young Songwriters, I enjoyed the album and thought it showed real promise for Phantom Planet. Well, what do you know? For a followup, it was easier to to buy the post-punk starter pack, refuel it with modern rock hooks, and hire Dave Fridmann to stomp on the master tapes with them. Attention groupies! The New and Improved Phantom Planet! Now Featuring Smaller Dicks!


  6. I wouldn’t say The Guest was too lush; it was just too clean. Too sanitized. It sounded like a good rock and roll record that had been remixed to sound appropriate on the radio next to the Avrils and Dave Matthewses.

  7. I loved The Guest. I saw the band in concert here about almost two summers ago where Greenwald jumped up top the tent during the sweltering hot Wicker Park fest and had to be yanked down by a security guard, but not before coming damn close to falling head first off said tent. This all happened as he was bringing the song “all over again” to a close. It rocked. They were great and I met Schwartzman after the show.

    Now fast forward to a month ago when I bought the new album. I was barely able to get through it once. But I will give it another chance after reading this review. What the hell right?

    Other then that, Jake I do believe Schwarzman is Jason’s real last name. Seeing that he is Talia Shire’s son and I believe reading before that Scwartzman was his now deceased father’s name.

  8. There’s some really good stuff on this record. It is definitely Strokesy and trendy, though. Can’t recommend the expenditure but can say it’s a worthwhile listen.

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