The Phantom Band

The Wants

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Kicking off first with a series of low tones and then the kick-up-your-heels glam stomp of a drum part -- not for nothing is the song itself called "A Glamour." Wants finds t he Phantom Band in a good spot, building on their OK-enough first album, Checkmate Savage, to find much more of an individual identity. Rick Anthony's low key but not overly dark delivery on the verses turns sweetly triumphant by the time he hits the chorus, and the feeling is that of a charged-up swagger that freely mixes and matches all over the place (and helps put to bed a comparison the group has long been labored with: if the Beta Band were about easygoing experimentation, the Phantom Band here takes that notion to town on a flashy Saturday night). There's the moody pulse of "O" and the all-out punch and strut of "Mr. Natural" with a concluding guitar growl that's as mean as all get out; the slower punch of "Walls," in which big, booming drums and synth bass offset the yearning vocals and build into a noisier conclusion without letting go of that central pace. When the group moves toward a quieter approach, the switch-up brings out both the subtler touches and a bit of unvarnished romanticism, even in something as simple as the banjo that turns up on "The None of One," with Anthony sounding like a forlorn folk singer in some long-forgotten bar even as soft keyboards and shimmering bells surround him. But halfway through the song, the drums suddenly rev up and it all becomes a slick, somehow cool romp even as most everything else about the song continues in the same calmer vein.

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