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The Wants
The Phantom Band The Wants
Released 15 October 2010
Producer Paul Savage
Label Chemikal Underground
Length 48:01
Genre Indie rock
Website www.phantomband.co.uk
80

To date The Phantom Band has proven to be an unfortunately prophetic name for this Glasgow sextet. Despite the highly favourable critical reception of 2009’s debut album Checkmate Savage, the public recognition never really followed. Checkmate Savage peaked in the album charts at number 181 but was recognized by Scottish arts magazine The Skinny as the 28th best Scottish album of the decade, not bad for a debut album especially when you think of the big releases in those ten years from bands like Biffy Clyro, Mogwai and Franz Ferdinand. Their follow up album, The Wants, will have a lot to live up to.

The album opens with 'A Glamour', a straight rock drum beat plods along with a xylophone melody on top (ok it could be a marimba or a vibraphone melody either, but you get the picture), while Rick Anthony provides smooth lead vocals in a Glaswegian accent. This is followed by 'O', a more dance orientated song, with Anthony throwing in a bit of falsetto for good measure. 'Everybody Knows It’s True' meanders along with the return of the xylophone and the introduction of Depeche Mode style backing ‘ooohs’, just some of the little touches that make the songs easy to get lost in.

The parallels with Depeche Mode aren’t just limited to background vocals. There’s a lot of similarities between both bands, the same attention to detail in songs, the same dark mood pervades, both bands building their songs around multiple synth lines and drums but still keeping an undercurrent of a rock band. The fact is you could slip a song like 'Blue Dress' onto this album and not notice any change in style, which isn’t something you could say about many other albums.

Two curveballs are thrown into the mix with 'The None Of One' and 'Come Away In The Dark'. Both songs are pretty straightforward folk songs that come as a bit of a shock after the built up electro and percussion fuelled songs they’re sandwiched between. It’s a nice change of pace for the album, adding a bit of depth away from programmed beats and shows that The Phantom Band are well capable of doing the simple things right.

There is very little in the way of compromise on this album, The Wants isn’t going to win over masses of new fans with radio friendly singles. Instead it’s a complete work best enjoyed when listened to from start to finish. Perhaps down the line there will be the commercial sell-out, they won’t be the first band to have done so, but for now at least they seem happy to settle for quality of music over quantity of sales.

- Brian Kinsella