Phantom Planet

Sunday, November 2; the Gargoyle at Washington University

Oct 29, 2003 at 4:00 am
Two albums into their musical career, the members of Phantom Planet got their braces off. With a little help from their orthodontists, producers extraordinaire Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, the band crafted a gleaming smile of an album. The Guest positively beams Southern Californian pop. It's a little too straight and a little too perfect -- but, damn, it sure is purdy.

Since revealing their new set of pearly whites, the kids in Phantom Planet have made a living surfing the crest of the power pop wave. At times they slip dangerously close to emo angst, but they always manage to reclaim their footing with enough assurance to leave up-and-coming soundalikes such as Rooney and Ben Kweller treading towards the nearest buoy. Princes of power pop they may very well be: in sound, in record sales and in lineage.

Lineage? In a band with three (3) guitarists, it shouldn't matter that the guy from Rushmore (Jason Schwartzman) is the drummer or that the guy from those hot 1999 Gap ads (Alex Greenwald) is the lead vocalist. But it does. Their star power, and the accompanying negative attention, is the only thing weighing down their sunny-day sound.

Still, it's a notable accomplishment to pen the best song called "California" since Joni Mitchell. But perhaps it is an even greater feat to make lyrics that are unbelievably cheesy ("If I had one ray of sunlight to hold in my hand/Maybe we could be happy again") not only likeable, but belt-out-able. One can only hope that their show at the Gargoyle doesn't turn into a Tiger Beat singalong with Schwartzman, Greenwald and a gaggle of prepubescent girls.