Phantom Planet is a frequently evolving four-piece alternative music band based out of Southern California that achieved fame for its track California, which has gone on to become the theme song for the popular Fox TV series, The O.C.. Phantom Planet also performed a cover of Jackson Browne’s Somebody’s Baby for Not Another Teen Movie. “Big Brat” was also introduced in the video game soundtrack, Driv3r (Driver 3). Their first record is a surf-rock collection of tunes reminiscent of The Beach Boys. Their second is classic rock harkening to U2 and Blur. Their third and most recent album is an amalgam of sounds, described by the band members as “a fight between” bands such as Fugazi, The Who, The Cure, The Flaming Lips, and The Clash.
One unsuspecting day a few years back my brother comes busting in my room, “Noah, that dude from Rushmore has a band, check this out!” Hey then proceeded to play California for me, and sure enough there he was, Max Fischer himself, pounding the skins. But, wait a minute… this tune was catchy. Like, infectiously so. I immediately picked up the album for around seven or eight bucks- seven or eight bucks well worth it. I hadn’t heard tunes this catchy since Weezer’s Blue Album. This album turned out to be much more than just some novelty.
Alex Greenwald’s songwriting on The Guest straddles the line between genius and exceptional for the entirety of the record. There ain’t a throwaway track in the bunch. Don’t expect to be challenged here though. The songwriting is straight-forward, unabashed pop, and the lyrics complement the songs brilliantly- nothing incredibly thought provoking, just Greenwald’s insights into love and loss. What struck me most about this album were the classic pop influences that are found throughout. Unlike many bands who claim to be a 60’s pop throwback, Phantom Planet are actually able to achieve and surpass that claim. Astonishingly enough, there’s a hint of Beatles which shines through wonderfully with a little Elvis Costello for good measure. I was able to catch ’em live a year or so ago at a tiny little club here in Atlanta and Greenwald and Co. did not disappoint. It was a brilliant, energetic live show with Greenwald swinging from the rafters and jumping in the crowd on a few occasions. And, of course, we can’t forget about the rock. That was there too, in full force.
I challenge any of you dislike Phantom Planet. Everyone likes a pop song, but an entire record chock full of catchy, heartfelt little morsels you can just sink your teeth into- now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. The Guest is just an outstanding record and Greenwald has the gift. By now, you’ve all heard California a la The OC, but you should do yourselves all a great service by picking up this album. You’ll thank me; trust me.
Review by Emma Loggins