10 of 2010 (#5): The Phantom Band – The Wants
It could have been horribly messy, the second Phantom Band album. After last year’s debut blindsided us, seemingly from nowhere, and everyone in the know was touting them as something very special indeed, such plaudits and pressure could have conceivably resulted in an unfocused, humourless hatchet job. “There are things I, and probably all of us, would change of course,” admits enigmatic frontman Rick Anthony on their sophomore masterpiece. “If I had a time machine then I would probably already be going back affecting changes on this album and other aspects of my existence. And yours.”
It’s perhaps a common artistic sentiment and precisely what drives such people in the first place. Yet Anthony needn’t bother with the flux capacitor. Despite the pressure, and the relatively short time-span since Checkmate Savage, The Wants eclipsed expectations and did the damn-near impossible by bettering their tremendous debut. On that note Anthony is more direct about matters. “In terms of where we were as a band, and the pressures that we were facing, from within and without, I would have to say that I am very happy with it.” Happier than with Checkmate Savage? “Absolutely, yes.”
Anyone who has even had a cursory listen to The Wants will know that these are not the words of someone trotting out hackneyed lines to tout their latest wares. From opening gambit A Glamour, which chugs along with typical Phantom playfulness, before exploding into one of the most sexually satisfying guitar riffs they’ve yet discovered, to Goodnight Arrow’s apocalyptic finale, it’s an album that continually throws unexpected curveballs whilst remaining true to the band’s embracing ethos. Or as Anthony puts it: “more accessible, yet also a bit less predictable.”
It’s the measure of a great band, distilling potential art-house pretension into folk and krautrock gems like Everybody Knows It’s True and album highlight Into The Corn respectively. It certainly bodes well for the future, even if Anthony himself remains somewhat modest. “I suppose one day we might have another go,” he states when asked of a possible third album. “Until then, we’ll just enjoy the free beer while it lasts.” We’ll drink to that.