The Phantom Band – The Wants

A great release, but not one to immediately grab you, as a lot of the songs have a laid-back, reflective nature about them. Given that the LP is evenly paced throughout, the whole thing may seem to drift by on first acquaintance: but this band specializes in seductive music that is confident enough not to need immediate attention. It is fair to say that The Wants is quite gnomic at times: the cover is doubtless suggestive of something, and could actually be something made by Bob Pollard for a Guided by Voices LP.

On to the record, then.  First track up, A Glamour, is a droll work-out powered by a rich and choppy guitar part plus a stomping beat. It’s not fussy and a solid enough beginning. The solid, stoic feeling continues throughout tracks like O, Mr. Natural and Everybody Knows it’s True. Despite the complexity of arrangement, the clever twists and turns of chord structure and the richness of texture, there’s a very simple, secure base to this music… you can’t see many of these tracks falling apart. The Phantom Band always (for my money) sound at their best when they strip back all the flummery and sing a simple song. The None of One starts off as one of these: a ghostly lament which allows the lovely melody to stand up and be counted. After a little while the drums kick in and almost kidnap the track in the mid-section. Some kind of calm returns, but it’s still a weird track. Come Away in the Dark is another soft lament that utilizes their softer side to great effect. I’d actually love to see them make an acoustic LP, see them sweat out the tracks without the prop of effects.

The last three tracks are perhaps the highlight: Walls has an endearing, stompy melody that drives it on and Into the Corn is a hardy electronic work-out (replete with unsettling lyrics) that takes advantage of clever changes of tempo allied to a wistful and saccharine vocal arrangement. Best is saved till last; Goodnight Arrow is a theatrical 60s Bond Theme of sorts with a beautiful spiraling guitar riff for company.

All in all, a seductive listen.