The Phantom Band: Strange Friend review – shape-shifting mix of folk, rock, electronica and more

(Chemikal Underground)

The Phantom Band's shape-shifting is disorientating. Atacama starts with a sparse acoustic guitar accompanying Rick Anthony's baritone, but before you can say King Creosote, some bubbling electronica kicks in. On their third album, their first since 2010, the Scottish six-piece have supposedly adopted a back-to-basics approach, though they don't scrimp on production jiggery-pokery. The melodies flutter around the tonic note like Caledonian reels, but this is not folk music: there's too much new stuff happening. Songs such as (Invisible) Friends veer towards the anthemic but don't quite ignite. In any case, the use of vintage synths means they're closer to Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark than to Big Country. But Clapshot truly does rouse, soaring into joyousness while a fairground rock'n'roll organ hammers away. When Women of Ghent evaporates, leaving a guitar line echoing the Beatles' Two of Us, you're left marvelling at the intangibility of it all.


Jon Dennis

The GuardianTramp

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