Phantom Ghost

Phantom Ghost

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Admittedly, it'd be pretty foolish to say that two songs make an album. Thanks to the cinematic gorgeousness of "Perfect Lovers" and the melancholic electro-pop brilliance of "Electronic Alcatraz," one fights the urge to say exactly that about Phantom Ghost's self-titled album. This apparent one-off from Thies Mynther and Dirk Von Lowtzow features the two aforementioned highlights and six other songs that hop stylistically from Baroque indie pop ("This Work Is Inside Out") to vocal IDM ("The Loop") to flat-out noise ("Buon Giorno Inferno") to Rolling Stones covers (an awkward, burping electro-pop version "Memo From Turner"). These six non-highlights form the core of what would ordinarily make an extremely mediocre album, but the two highlights pull it out of that hole. The wistful "Electronic Alcatraz" is based on a vaguely up-tempo four-four dance beat and is filled with a series of melodic elements, from the burbling keyboard noises to an impassioned vocal performance from Von Lowtzow. Von Lowtzow resembles Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard, but only if Pollard had been raised on ABC and Pet Shop Boys instead of the Kinks and the Who. "Perfect Lovers" would be the central force of any album, arriving gradually on a bed of rolling synthetic tom-toms, more odd synth noises, a sad piano, and a layer of strings. Here, Von Lowtzow's voice is echoed to great effect, as he sings about who cares what -- it just sounds massive and amazing, OK? It falls somewhere between Joy Division's "Atrocity Exhibition" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." A screenwriter/director like Tom Tykwer (The Princess and the Warrior, Run Lola Run) could give the song the type of attention it needs in an arty melodrama of some sort. If only.

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