The Phantom Band – Everybody Knows It’s True (2010 / 2011)
This is the greatest bone-rattling, choral-rock sea-shanty in the universe. It’s being released as a single soon, but it first reared its (hydra)head on last year’s magic album, ‘The Wants’, (review from The List below), and it stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t know whether to dance or cry at its churning folk, its primal psychedelia, its heavenly chorus, its prowling bass. I did neither, in the end. I just listened. Again. And again. And again.
The Phantom Band: The Wants (Chemikal Underground)
Does the burden of expectation weigh heavy on The Phantom Band? Not on this watch. Despite being charged with the task of living up to a near-perfect debut (Checkmate Savage), they rebound like the singular tribe they are: answerable to themselves; comparable to no-one.
The first of many striking things about The Wants is how much it sounds like The Phantom Band: all primitive alt-folk, kraut-rock grooves and warped, time-travelling pop – and feral with their vivid and thrilling sci-fi / gothic / paranoid vernacular.
There are several evolutions too. The Glasgow-based rabble flaunt more electro muscle – most notably on the Eurythmics-impaling ‘O’, whose zombie-disco hooks and trills are a remix away from conquering Ibiza; and on the kilted glam-stomp of ‘A Glamour’ (think Ultravox meets Wounded Knee).
Aural incongruities are also in vogue (actually, make that En Vogue) on The Wants – singer Rick Anthony’s ever-glorious Bonny Prince Billy-isms are bludgeoned by motorik riffage mid-way through the cosmic ‘The None of One’ – and their range of vocal expression is vast: they dabble with poly-rhythms; there are invocations of Vincent Price. ‘Everybody Knows It’s True’ is a case in point: a stunning, disorientating ode to (what else?) sad rainbows, shape-shifting and secret cats.
The rest of the album is no less affecting – from the livid fever-throes of ‘Into the Corn’ (there’s oft a glint of Heavy Metal in their imagery) to the beatific shimmer of ‘Walls’.
The Wants is bigger than us all. Long may The Phantom Band break hearts and mountainsides.
(Nicola Meighan, The List, October 2010)
Buy Phantom Band goodness and see lives dates here.