The Phantom Band: Strange Friend

The Glaswegian sextet’s glorious return.

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It seems like forever since we heard from this band. Their last LP, The Wants, landed four years ago, and since then they’ve changed drummers, been distracted by the odd solo project and continued to move along at what they call their ‘own glacial pace’.

Whatever the circumstances, Strange Friend is a terrific comeback. The music is a little more streamlined than before, though it’s again guided by the ticking heartbeat of 70s krautrock and a gothic sense of explorative prog. This visceral rush is never more explicit than on Doom Patrol and Clapshot, the latter a surefire hit in a parallel universe where sales and artistic merit go palm in palm. Things get a little tricksier on Atacama, with its insidious bass riff and guitars, but the standout is Sweatbox, which throbs along to a deliciously odd meter before rupturing into a great keyboard break and ending with a nimble acoustic fadeout. And just when you think you have them pegged, they offer up Galapagos, all rickety percussion, Eastern tinkliness and a dash of banjo. Most impressive of all is frontman Rick Anthony, whose remarkable voice conjures the same murky splendour as Scott Walker or Nick Cave. A welcome return.

Via Chemikal Underground