When Julia Jacklin released her debut LP Don't Let the Kids Win in 2016, it introduced a mix of spare indie folk and more energized, retro-flavored country-rock that kept introspection and discontent front and center. Two years later, she follows it up with a much more off-the-cuff, upbeat indie rock via her band Phantastic Ferniture. A project born out of jamming with friends, they even made a point of having members play instruments other than their main ones in an effort to keep things loose. Songs emerged from playing mostly covers at open mikes in Sydney, then booking a show and needing to have something to play. Track titles like "Take It Off" and "Fuckin' 'N' Rollin'" capture some of the intended spirit here, though listeners will be greeted by a hazy, trippy type of lively alt-rock rather than a dedicated garage-punk or dance band. Speaking of dancing, though, "Dark Corner Dance Floor" sneaks some offbeat hi-hat and four-on-the-floor into what is an otherwise driving, swirling noise-pop. Concerning itself mostly with seduction, the slinky "Take It Off" instead takes a carefree, midtempo approach via a strutting guitar line that could easily be transposed to bass. The post-punkier "Gap Year" presents a more uptempo dance-rock but with hints of conflict and regret as Jacklin declares that she can love without the sentiment being returned. Despite their contrasts, Phantastic Ferniture shares a certain retro spirit and thoughtfulness with Jacklin's work as a singer/songwriter, even though others are involved in the writing here, and even when it's trying not to think too much.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson