Not Phantom, but Doppelganger
It is peculiar that Phantom Planet would meticulously drag itself through the mud for their third album, considering producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips) was on board. The album is rough and angry, quite a deviation from either of its previous emo-pop releases (Phantom Planet is Missing and The Guest). Interestingly, their garage-rock endeavor is self-titled, perhaps an indicator that they have found their true sound, or perhaps with the departure of drummer Jason Schwartzman, they feel they have gelled better.
Though a Johnny-come-lately to a garage-rock scene whose shelf-life is uncertain, Phantom Planet has shown they can rock. With the exception of â€šÃ„ÃºKnowitallâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºAfter Hoursâ€šÃ„Ã¹ which are the only remnants of the sound found on The Guest, this album is a shot of adrenaline. The opening track, â€šÃ„ÃºHappy Ending,â€šÃ„Ã¹ welcomes you with distorted guitars and solid drums, and the energy flows strong through â€šÃ„ÃºBadd Business,â€šÃ„Ã¹ â€šÃ„ÃºBig Brat,â€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºJabberjaw.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Lyrically too, Phantom Planet has diverged from previous releases. Where songs like â€šÃ„ÃºAlways on My Mindâ€šÃ„Ã¹ off The Guest pine over desired love, this album demonstrates the frustration of love-gone-sour on â€šÃ„Ãº1st Things 1st.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Furthermore, it appears that the general optimism of The Guest as demonstrated in â€šÃ„ÃºAnthemâ€šÃ„Ã¹ has been replaced by the disillusionment displayed in â€šÃ„ÃºBadd Business.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Accordingly, Alex Greenwald has traded in his melodious vocal style for a more frenetic version, closer to Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat.
Overall, Phantom Planet is an enjoyable, if not unexpected ride – minus the groan-inducing â€šÃ„ÃºBy the Bed.â€šÃ„Ã¹ However, if you were snagged by upbeat pop-rock sound of The Guest, be warned – Phantom Planet has suddenly moved out of the studio and into a garage.