Phantom Planet’s self-titled album launches the band far from their days of being one hit wonders. The alternative pop rock band said good-bye to drummer Jason Schwartzman, a.k.a. Max Fischer from the film “Rushmore,” and has emerged with a raw, more intense garage rock sound.Producer Dave Fridmann (of Flaming Lips) is known in the industry for expanding the sounds of bands and with Phantom Planet’s third major label release he did just that. Replacing drummer Jason Schwartzman was a big deal for the band. Veteran drummer Jeff Conrad was asked to fill in. Conrad provides the band with a new energy without changing the band’s self-motivated sound.
Phantom Planet truly reinvents its sound throughout the entire album. The album is not what critics and industry gurus were expecting. The unanticipated album sounds much like The Strokes. Catchy melodies, pounding rock rhythms, distorted guitars, and harmonizing are a part of Phantom Planet’s repertoire but this time around the band added depth musically and lyrically. Phantom Planet has grown up and is standing on its own.
The first track, “Happy Ending,” begins with a hammering drumbeat and some feedback then the full-on guitars and lyrics. The track seems to warn, “We aren’t who you think we are!” The song accurately sets the tone for the rest of the album.
A few tracks later the album’s first single, “Big Brat,” clearly displays the talent of the band. The guitar rhythms are jumpy and sound a little like the Clash. The song combines the band’s old sound with the new. The hook is the chorus. The whole band is shouting, “You’re always/up to no good” followed by a tense guitar riff and clamored drums. The album features some more bursting guitars and shout-along chorus in “Badd Business” and “Jabberjaw.”
“Happy Ending” and “Making a Killing” are good enough to get radio play for their rock edge. “You’re Not Welcome Here” and “Know-itall” is a bit too much noise and sounds overproduced. The drums, horns, and noises coming out of the tracks may bring a listener to the breaking point. “By The Bed” is most reminiscent to Phantom Planet’s previous album The Guest.
Overall the new self-titled LP sound is far from the bands previous albums. The band undoubtedly matured. They know how to play their instruments and write songs people will listen to. Remember the theme song “California” for the Fox television show “The O.C.?” Phantom Planet wrote it but don’t expect anything like “California” on this album.
A lot of people criticize the band for sounding too much like The Strokes. This either means the band is trying to fit into the mainstream buzz, or the band has found their true sound and really like The Strokes. If one listens to the album more then once, he or she will find that Phantom Planet has a unique sound. The band has been around since the late ’90s and has been touring for years. Their success and popularity is at an all-time high, and they seem to be heading in the right direction.