Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Patrick Stolley
The four members of Phantom Planet strive for the nights that leave you sprawled and reeling on the ground by the morning. The highest form of compliment that they could give to an evening and all that transpired would be a froggy exclamation of, "Fuck yeah." It would be trying to choke out some words that escape as a squeak of hoarseness. A breathlessness comes from shredding all of the hydrated tissue from the throat and vocal cords clean off until there's nothing but a dry husk hanging past the sticky tongue. This happens all the time in their music. Lead singer Alex Greenwald warns, "Be careful not to drink too much," but those words of advice are to be thrown into the fan. He doesn't really mean to exhibit caution. Caution is for the wind and for babies. Those words wouldn't be worth the paper they were written on, if that were his method of passing them along. They aren't worth the tattered air that he affixes them to in the song.
The band - in its harried pace - travels into the dead of night and turns on all of the lights, throws the electricity up to its steepest levels and then it just goes bonkers in an attempt to get intimate and sweaty with that old saying that the good Latin people used: carpe diem. They thrash through their days as if there were no more to thrash through, as if they were trying to pull all of doors off the hinges, shatter all of the fine china and windows, liquefy all of the cars after setting playful fire to them - sending a flowing stream of broken shards, bolts, doorknobs and tire rubber through the street. Greenwald is okay with letting the hoarseness overcome him at times - in fits of perfect timing, it always sounds - when there's so much going on with his active imagination and his tendency to just lose himself.
They do raise the dead, just as their latest album suggests, and they ask them to do nothing to thank them for the service, for the new life than to just join in the festivities - kick off their shoes and lose themselves enough in the dirty, party melee that by the time it all stops (when the cops come knocking at a neighbor's report of a noise disturbance or some damned kids pissing on their dog or welcome mat?) they're dead tired and back where they started, glad to have taken in one more night of frenzied mischief. It's hazardous to your health not to enjoy the unabashed recklessness and catchiness of this Californian band that has grown considerably since they were palling around Los Angeles with buddies Kara's Flowers (now Maroon 5) and writing those sunny summer love songs that the boardwalks, bikinis and tanned atmosphere seem to demand.
The band has progressed through the pin-up stage that they were in when actor Jason Schwartzman was still in the band as its stick man. Those days are ancient and those fluffier songs have given way to a more mature fare that harkens to the scruffiness and gnarly distortion that are the tools of every superior garage band. These are the lip curls, the tight jeans, the spills and the seizures, the black eyes and the high leg kicks all rolled into a shaky hip. You'll catch them out of breath often, heaving deep from the chest and they'll probably be smiling about it. They'll be worn out and they'll be keeping those vampire hours until they're all four old men, impatiently waiting to be raised again and told that the world's looking for a reprise. They will give it. It will sound as sweet and happily distorted as ever.
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