The Phantom Band – Fears Trending
Comprised mainly of offcuts from last year's Strange Friend (five of the seven tracks here were recorded during those sessions), it’s tempting to approach the fourth full Phantom Band release as an exercise in guessing why the material didn't pass muster the first time around.
It’s probably a futile endeavour but at a push we’d wager that much of what has become Fears Trending was deemed a little too dark, too weird and, perhaps, too experimental for its lighter of touch predecessor. But far from feeling like an afterthought for hardcore fans only, Fears Trending is as essential as anything the venerable sextet have done to this point.
The brazen and multi-faceted Tender Castle sets a tone of structure and production that is unhinged by just the right amount, The Phantoms clearly embellishing their wayward tendencies. The brooding and ominous Black Tape sounds more like a forgotten shadowy gem from 2011’s The Wants than anything else and if tears weren’t shed at the initial shelving of gorgeous bluegrass finale Olden Golden then these boys are made of pretty stern stuff.
Fears Trending's genesis might have been as an assortment of odd scraps, but as any foodie will tell you, sometimes the leftovers can be tastier than the main meal itself.