The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.
Most widely known for their former drummer, actor Jason Schwartzman (“Rushmore”), who parted ways with the band midway through its latest recording to pursue acting full time, Phantom Planet has always been plagued by the struggle of identifying themselves in the crowd. This makes their latest release, Phantom Planet, seem more like a resuscitation than a rock record.
Instantaneously noticeable is a distraught, run-down perspective, previously concealed on any Phantom Planet effort. The dark, aggressive album immediately forges relations to such classics as Weezer’s bleak, emotive Pinkerton. Phantom Planet hearkens and their snakes uncurl.
The album centers itself around singer Alex Greenwald’s painful, biting lyricism and explosive delivery. Formerly, Greenwald was a soothing, angelic vocalist; now, he’s ditched the angels for an angst-ridden, cathartic growl that soars over tracks with the tenacity of a Harrier jet. He nervously twitches and forces you to fixate on his bloodshot eyes and listen while he waxes intellectual on the demons of society and the sordid nature of his past relationships.
The most noticeable change they make, however, is musically. After finding inspiration in a Daft Punk song title, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” the band took a reformed attitude into their recording session. As a result, they created their most heterogeneous record ever, which is surprising.
Their last record, The Guest, was filled with airy, California dream-pop and a radio-friendly hue, including the theme to the hit FOX drama, “The O.C.” Now, Phantom Planet is a sharp, abrasive rock band with a Strokes-esque swagger.
The stripped-down, newly distorted Phantom Planet draws on influences ranging from the Clash to My Bloody Valentine, dropping the frayed and misused acoustic guitars, and as a result, tunes out their first two albums. From the reggae-fused “Badd Business” and “The Happy Ending,” to the wall-of-drone “You’re Not Welcome,” Planet emerges rejuvenated. They’ve become a clearly defined juggernaut in their own right and not just another throwaway pop-rock band, lost in a sea of ambiguity.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.