First Appeared at The Music Box, March 2004, Volume 11, #3
Written by John Metzger
Phantom Planetís self-titled third album may be a shock to the power-pop fans who glommed onto its hook-heavy extravaganza The Guest. Trading in its infectious melodies and soaring anthems for the brash and brassy aural assault of its new release, the group blasts through 11 tunes in 35 minutes, sounding more like The Strokes and The Clash than Radiohead, Fastball, Elvis Costello, or Big Star. Itís a bold move for Phantom Planet, just as it is for any ensemble that veers so drastically from a style with which it so closely has been associated. After all, California, the bandís signature song, has been featured virtually everywhere, from the theme to Foxís The O.C. to the soundtrack for the film Orange County, and nothing on its new album is even remotely similar. Unfortunately, Phantom Planetís new direction also isnít nearly as effective. Despite the buoyant reggae of Badd Business, the noisy clatter of The Happy Ending, and the XTC-like post-punk bop of 1st Things 1st, the songs simply begin to blur into an innocuous haze long before the album concludes. True, the effort has its moments, and, for the most part, itís enjoyable. In the end, however, little lives up to the promise held within the bandís gloriously nuanced approach to the The Guest, where breezy, ebullient, pop-fueled, sun-soaked songs reigned supreme.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box