The Phantom Band – Strange Friend

Just why aren’t Glasgow’s The Phantom Band one of the UK’s biggest acts, topping festival bills and spending their days off hanging gold discs in their mansions?

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Three albums in  the critical accolades continue but still success eludes them. Listening to Strange Friend really puts their surprising lack of fame up until now into perspective. Musically there is no reason why this can’t be a top ten selling album this year. It’s packed full of stadium sized indie rock, but with lashings of quirky twists, turns and vintage synths along the way to retain credibility.

This is a big album in sound and just seems out of kilter with the  seemingly small band that are promoting it’s release with just four dates, all in small venues such as London’s Hoxton Bar and Grill. It is also not the album of a band that has been honing its trade since 2006 but still only has less than 4,000 Twitter followers in the social media age. If I was an executive at Chemikal Underground I’d be pulling out all the stops to get this band the audience it’s wonderful music deserves.

Take third track Doom Patrol. Its got a huge sound and melody, perfect for say the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, but also with clever ‘80s synths to appeal to a mass audience and snobby music bloggers like me in equal measure.

Then there’s their star turn, singer Ricky Anthony’s beautiful and heavily Scottish accented vocals. At times it’s akin to Neil Hannon, deep and velvety, such as on opener The Wind That Cried The World. Then he takes his deep vocals in an entirely darker direction on the stripped back Atacama, in which he does this year’s best Bill Callahan impression.

The album is rich full of influences from across the generations that combine to create a sound that is wholly unique, as they blend 70s and 80s electronica, kraut rock and modern pop and rock in an inventive as well as crowd pleasing way. So for how long will The Phantom Band remain a secret friend to their small fan base? Possibly not much longer. The band have Tweeted on June 3 that they have made it into the midweek album charts (ending June 9) sandwiched between Katy Perry and One Direction. Could it be that finally the world has come to its senses and stellar success beckons for The Phantom Band. We hope so as this is an album and a band that deserve far wider attention.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

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