Reviewed by: Brian Roser
The Phantom Band is a menace. The first track, “The Wind That Cried the World”, starts with this happy electric beat that reminds me of music in a children’s show on PBS. I thought hey, this is great, I love learning about adverbs. The album is laced with these staccato electric noises that more closely resemble the sound effects of a laser machine gun from a bad sci-fi movie than they do an actual beat. Not to mention that the album cover looks like they gave an eighth grader a little graph paper, some 70s artwork for inspiration and a near lethal dose of LSD. The worst part is the ooh ooh oohs. Well, it also shows up in the dee dee da de dums, but mostly it’s the ooh ooh oohs. His voice cracks on every one of them. They wrote songs with all these high notes and he just can’t hit them. It seems the longer he holds the note, the more uneven it is. This album is definitely a little raw. Not raw in the sense that it lays bare the injustices of society, but raw in the cooking sense. This album has not been fully prepared.
The band has been around since 2002, but not with the same name. They went through half a dozen of them before settling on The Phantom Band in 2006. This is album number three for the six Glaswegians in the group. The members are Duncan Marquiss (guitar), Gerry Hart (bass), Andy Wake (keyboards), Rick Anthony (vocals and guitar), Iain Stewart (drums) and Greg Sinclair (guitars). Anthony was once quoted as saying “We never really took things too seriously to start with.” It shows. Most of the band members are also involved in side projects, which is not good news for the band as a whole. Right now they do not need to be dividing their attention.
Am I being unfair? I must reluctantly admit that yes, I am. As much as I hate the sour notes, Anthony’s voice is actually good when he sticks to his lower register. His singing is not hidden with screeching, but colored with a delightful Scottish burr. The guitar solos are good. There’s also a wide musical range: “Atacama” features an acoustic guitar, “Dream Patrol” has a martial beat and “Galapagos” has an interesting use of percussion. Tell you what, I’ll make a deal with you, Phantom Band: next time, keep your voice in a key that’s lower and I’ll give you a rating that’s higher.