Phantom Planet

Artist: Phantom Planet
Title: Phantom Planet

Phantom Planet’s new self-titled comes as their drummer, Jason Schwarzmann, is departing the band, although he makes an appearance on this record. This album is quite a departure for them. It really sounds to me like a “sophomore” album, even though it’s their third. Maybe that’s because I always thought of Phantom Planet is Missing as more of a demo and The Guest as their first album.

In any event, this album is a lot “harder”. Noisier. Less of the pop melodies that define their first two albums. Honestly, it’s not so hot. I am not entirely sure what they are going for. The earnest vocal harmonies that were their trademark are replaced with a sortof gravelly sneer. Their sound in general is more aggressive and harsh. One highlight is that Sam Farrar’s excellent bass playing really stands out.

There are some bright spots. “Badd Business” shows off some nice vocals (with attitude) and a fun bassline that crystalizes in a fun reggae-ish chorus. “1st Things 1st” is a nicely punchy song that almost reminds me of early Elastica, complete with the snarling vocals and lilting guitar accents. Some of the better bass-playing I’ve heard on a pop rock record in a while, as well, so that’s refreshing.

These songs define a sound that isn’t maintained – the rest of the album totally falls flat, by comparison. I find it hard to single-out even one song after track 4 that stands out. “After Hours”, towards the end, is about the closest to some actual melody that we get. All in all, I give it a C+. Wait for this one to come out on video. er, kazaa. or something.