Album Reviews: Phantom Planet

    With this album, Los Angeles’ Phantom Planet shows they’ve caught the new wave that hit rock two years ago. These days, it hasn’t been without obstacles: They lost drummer Jason Schwartzmann, star of “”Rushmore,”” to his acting career. While not crippling, this certainly deprived it of some star power. There were also difficulties on a musical front. These days, it’s hard to sound like the Strokes without being accused of trying to sound like the Strokes. But they shows off their new style with a large degree of success.

    Most of Phantom Planet is a far cry from the more soothing pop sounds that defined their earlier songs, such as “”The O.C.”” theme song “”California.”” With thrashing guitars, fierce bass line melodies and the relentless energy of new drummer Jeff Conrad, this latest album is one of unapologetic rock.

    The album’s opener, “”The Happy Ending,”” makes the album ironic because of its placement, as do songs about bad endings, like the ballad “”You’re Not Welcome Here.”” Phantom Planet is driven less by lyrical content than it is by melodies and unyielding beats.

    There are moments the band seems unable to reconcile its commitment to riding rock’s new wave with its undying urge to provide catchy, poppy tunes. In some places Alexander Greenwald’s lead vocals bear an almost uncanny resemblance to those of Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas. But on the whole, the album doesn’t suffer as a result.

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