Restless beneath a wave of distorted – but entirely melodic – white noise, we discover a rhythm bursting with color and a verse waiting for its shot in the sunlight as Phantom Wave’s “Glower” begins to play. The groove is distinct and perhaps the most intoxicating element to behold at the onset of this track, but the sheer volume of the instrumentation as a whole will soon challenge it for supremacy in a battle listeners are guaranteed to win.
Phantom Wave are intent on pushing boundaries as hard and as furiously as they can in songs like this one, the shimmering “Sweet Cheera” and surprisingly soft “Valhalla,” and if you plan on picking up a copy of their new album Wilds, you should expect to experience nothing less than an alternative rock juggernaut boldly stylized to the needs of a modern era. For every throwback moment ala “Across the Avenues,” there’s a stab at surreal immortality, from the shoegaze hybrid “Depth Charge” to the heartache-propelled “Anterograde,” but scarcely is there a genuine instance of this act sounding anything but focused on making music as powerful and affective as they can.
Whether heavy (the incredibly well-titled “Resin”) or complicated (“Billows”), the harmonies are always as big a piece of the narrative puzzle in Wilds as any lyrics are, and I don’t think there’s much room for debate as to whether or not poetic value exists in every verse here. The first time I listened to “High Dive,” I felt like I was experiencing virginal expression that, although hesitant where it needn’t be on more than one occasion, could only be communicated in this sort of a setting. Emotionality extends from one component of the material to the next rather seamlessly, implying a stream-of-consciousness design influence that most of the alternative rockers I’ve been following wouldn’t dare be brave enough to experiment with on their own at the moment. There’s a confidence to this strain of left-field indulgence, as it’s exhibited in the artistry of Phantom Wave, which I’m dying to hear more of, and with any luck this debut won’t be the last of their creative harmony in action.
While the elegance of “Everglades” might inspire a deeper ominousness in listeners than the fragile nature of an otherwise suffocating riff we hear around the sixty-second mark in “Amarinthine,” the amount of chills audiences are likely to get when playing this tracklist from start to finish should be consistent and satisfying this spring. Beyond obvious radio numbers like “Anterograde,” “Recursive” and “Glower,” there’s truly a lot of substance to every single bit of material on this LP, and I have a strong feeling we’re going to be hearing a lot more from this act in the near future. Theirs is a unique and much-needed approach to the alternative rock model most listeners are probably going to be taken aback by at first, but if history has taught us anything about this genre, it’s that the biggest of icons tend to evolve from the most experimental of framework in the game.