Phantom Planet’s official website coyly declares: “These boys will become pretentious, ego-driven, megastar deadbeats.” They might stand a bit far from that lofty goal, but with the delicate ear of Travis and the post-punk energy of Green Day, Phantom Planet might just be the perfect antidote to Creed’s over-bloated brand of testosterone rock. From the feel-good hand-claps of “Always on My Mind” to the sunny, piano-driven “California,” the band’s sophomore effort, The Guest, is a colorful mix of intelligence and youthful exuberance. And if their catchy hooks and infectious melodies weren’t warm and fuzzy enough, the lush production of tracks like the off-kilter “Wishing Well” (courtesy of veteran producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake) will surely induce cotton-mouth. Lead singer Alexander Greenwald exudes playful dynamism on the high energy “In Our Darkest Hour” and sweet guilelessness on the simple “Something Is Wrong.” The stand-out “Turn Smile Shift Repeat” critiques corporate existence with a particularly non-callous eye, building from an intentionally lifeless arrangement into a flurry of jangly guitars and saxophone. In this rare moment, the band is as smooth as Sade and as sardonic as Radiohead. Elsewhere, Greenwald is excruciatingly optimistic: “This whole world needs an anthem/And I hope that everyone will sing along.” Indeed.
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