I can hear it now: “Oh boy, a Phantom Planet review! I love that song ‘California’ that’s on the OC! Califfooorrrniiaaaaa!!!!!” (I’m not denying that I am a huge fan of The OC, just that I don’t ogle over the Phantom Planet song that has become a monumental hit for the second time, with the recent success of the OC.) I’ve been listening to Phantom Planet for quite a few years now, have downloaded all their songs, but this is the first time that I have purchased one of their CD’s. (note: I only bought 3 CD’s all throughout college, 2 Weezer and 1 Radiohead if you must ask.)
In comparison to previous albums, Phantom Planet has a dash more attitude and swagger. Still intact are the vocal harmonies, complementing lead guitar fills, and intriguing chord progressions that drew me to Phantom Planet in the first place. And despite the departure of drummer Jason Schwartzman, who has taken off to pursue his acting career, not much has changed musically. Their first single “Big Brat” has been chosen to represent MTV’s Wildboyz show starring idiot daredevils Steve-O and Pontius, has a simple but chunky guitar riff, and an appropriate lyrical theme of debauchery and tom-foolery.
If you haven’t seen their discography, you might be surprised to learn that they are not a one hit wonder, but a band that can crank out the hits. The success of ‘California‘ may have overshadowed their their other songs worthy of praise such as “In Our Darkest Hour“, “Anthem“, or “The Local Black and Red“, not to mention a few songs off this new album. If I had to describe them, I would say that they’re a bit like The Strokes only not as celebrated and the guitarists know how to do upstrokes. In a singing battle between Alexander Greenwald of Phantom Planet and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, it’s a close call, but I’m going to have to hand it to Greenwald. He shows much more emotion, which is much more entertaining than Casablancas monotone delivery.
So for all you fans of ‘California‘, who see themselves as potential Phantom Planet fans, this might might not be the album to start off with. Although this album has its hits, pleased me, and is bound to please other Phantom Planet fans, it’s a little rougher on the edges than say their 2002 release The Guest. Start there, and if you like what you hear, run, don’t walk to get their latest album.