Divided between big-screen familiarity and small-screen memories, L.A.-bred Phantom
Planet’s background is a tried-and-true Hollywood story. Even before becoming every teen’s at-the-moment fave when their fitting hit “California,” from 2002’s The Guest, helped introduce TV’s The O.C. to the world, Phantom Planet were already well-connected as actors and models in front of the camera and as children of legends behind and beyond it.
Four years later, Phantom Planet have moved on from their privileged past with Raise the Dead, the band’s fourth full-length album and debut for Fueled by Ramen, a much more fitting home than their previous imprints. The follow-up to their 2004 self-titled release, Raise the Dead abandons the piano ballads that once defined the band for guitar-driven, angst-fueled rockers. The opening title track best characterizes the band’s developing sound, with slow-building guitar melodies that soon switch to a fully orchestrated raucous that easily segues into the up-and-down noise of “Dropped.”
Greenwald’s vocals pierce sharply throughout, whether he’s harmonizing with a chorus of children on “Leader,” shoobie-doo-wopping on “Do the Panic,” or squealing on “Quarantine.” This last track, opening with a Radiohead-mimicking intro, tests Greenwald’s pipes as he climbs his vocal range to reach an ear-splitting high pitch recalling The Vines’ Craig Nicholls, Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist of The Hives, and Justin Hawkins of The Darknessâ€šÃ„Ã®and reminding us why such acts are so ephemeral.
Though Raise the Dead gets a bit experimental, adding a baritone sax on the bore of “Ship Lost at Sea,” Phantom Planet’s guitar focus on “Too Much Too Often,” “Leave Yourself for Somebody Else,” and “I Don’t Mind” bares more of the band’s soul. Perhaps Raise the Dead symbolized the rebirth of the now-defunct Phantom Planet from a cotton-candy pop persona. Indeed, this album provided the facelift needed for them to relive their past success temporarily.