Phantom - Smoke & Mirrors
Phantom should be huge. Fact. Superficially in the same bracket as Goldfrapp, La Roux and Florence & The Machine, this Canadian/British duo show them all exactly how to construct a beautiful, modern electronic album. The combination of ethereal vocals and lush e-bowed guitars over a dense treated background is deftly executed by the pair, a soundscape that lands them somewhere between Portishead and Cocteau Twins.
As two fingers to the iTunes jukebox trend of late, Smoke & Mirrors is split into just two parts with the songs therein flowing seamlessly into one another as they take the listener down a very dark and depressing road. ‘Sphinx’ ominously sets the mood as the drum-like sounds lay down a funereal beat for the guitars and synths to draw the unsuspecting victim in for 45 minutes of the most wondrously delicate yet pain-filled music.
‘We Float’ then introduces Elsie Martins’ haunting and gorgeous vocals, an aptly titled track as the ghostly score soars away deep into a warped and twisted dream world. The only blip in the album arrives at the end of part one with the Death In Plains remix of ‘We Float’ and the horrid electronic drums imposed upon it completely destroying the mood and atmosphere so elegantly crafted up to this point.
Thankfully the natural order is soon restored as the magnificent ‘Voodoo Romantic’ weaves its spectral magic with rising guitar lines and synths building to vanishing crescendoes. The staccato riff of ‘Fever’ confounds and amazes, the hypnotic off-cycles entrance as they creep across the back drop; this is Smoke & Mirrors' zenith with paranoid, almost schizophrenic peaks and troughs being utterly beguiling. And so as the epic, drawn out bliss of ‘Love In A Void’ closes the album, the spell is broken and reality is restored, temporarily.