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Flavorful But Familiar Power Pop

Phantom Planet - The Guest
(Epic / Daylight)
3 Stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: March 18, 2002

Phantom Planet

By Tony Bonyata

It's a rarity in rock when a drummer takes center stage above the lead vocalist or guitarist for the lion's share of a band's hype. But considering that Phantom Planet's time-keeper Jason Schwartzman is quickly becoming a name in the film industry (with starring roles in Rushmore and this year's Slackers) it's no wonder that the media has yanked him from the back of the stage and slapped him onto the headlines.
The fact of the matter, however, is that Schwartzman was a bandmember of the Los Angeles-based band Phantom Planet first - before he was an up-and-coming movie star.
With an unapologetic return to power pop, Phantom Planet have crafted a pleasing enough sophomore album with the recent release of The Guest. While not as quirky as Weezer, nor as dramatic as Queen, or as other-worldly as Radiohead, this twenty-something quintet still somehow manages to sneak elements of all of these acts into their music.
Filled with melodious hooks, shimmering guitars, a crisp, clean production and strong vocals and harmonies The Guest would seem to have all the earmarkings for a great album, but, unfortunately, falls a couple of feet short of the brass ring. This is largely in part due to the lack of having it's own unique identity - having heard most of it in one form or another before.
Still, the deliciously infectious slice of pop of "California," the Beatle-esque melodies of "Lonely Day," as well as the thespian-drama of Freddie Mercury that lead vocalist Alex Greenwald plays out on "One Ray of Sunlight" and "Wishing Well" make for enjoyable enough spins.
While The Guest may not be exactly what the doctor ordered, it still proves to be therapeutic on those sunny days with the windows down and the stereo up.

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