Label: Chemikal Underground Release date: 18/10/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon For a band known to many for their performances, and even releasing music under the guise of several band names (even encouraging promoters to choose one-off alter-egos for them), the now aptly named The Phantom Band have put together such a confident and assured album it makes you wonder just what they were getting up to in the heady days of temporary monikers. Opener ‘A Glamour’ begins with a driven, rumbling bass line that instantly reminds of Battles’ ‘Atlas’ and continues in a similar vein throughout, minus the robot-acid vocals that are replaced instead with a surging melody and delicate harmonies. The swung groove lifts the track as the instrumentation swirls and develops. ‘A Glamour’ acts as a perfect example of The Phantom Band’s keen understanding of strong song writing as a late refrain sheds a psychedelic-pop twist onto the track. ‘A Glamour’ closes beautifully with tuned-percussion filtering through the mix and you can’t help but wonder if the erratic nature behind the band’s history is at play here. Things continue in a similarly unpredictable vein with ‘O’; an 80s inspired, synth-driven track that allows vocalist Rick Anthony to explore his lower range. It all works perfectly and touches on fresh approach to new wave not unlike that of Wild Beasts. Samples and hummed refrains slowly filter in adding to the tracks haunted sound as the off-kilter time signature provides a sense of unease. The Wants centrepiece is the fantastically arranged ‘The None Of One’. Sitting in the middle of the album and clocking in at over eight minutes, it is a brave move given the instant nature of the previous tracks. This is not to say that ‘The None Of One’ is not in its own way immediate, it cruises by rather confidently in the vein of Sonic Youth’s quieter moments before suddenly taking an unexpected sharp turn that ends up sounding like Paul Weller covering Pink Floyd. At this halfway point of the album it becomes forgivable to start taking The Phantom Band’s innovative approach to instrumentation for granted, but a moments focussed listening reveals a truly original mixture of rotating synths and earthier drones before the track fades into an absorbing and strangely reflective outro. The Wants at times sounds like a rock band toying with electronics, and there is no better example of this than in ‘Walls’, a wonderful fusion of electronic music and lush guitars that tackles melody and structure in a similar way to Miracle Fortress and it is ‘Walls’ that in some respects sums up the appeal for the album as a whole. Even as the album closes this coming together of ideas and influences never ceases; this review even reads as a who’s who of other artists and this is what makes The Wants such a great listen. So as The Phantom Band settle into their band name and sound, The Wants seems to shed a little light on a band who will have previously eluded many listeners, and although at times it may feel like a homage to other fantastic artists in terms of influence it is important to realise that The Phantom Band have managed that most rewarding of feats in music; an album that celebrates all that came before it and brings something completely new to the table. Photobucket