Text by KralTunes @tonightatdawn
Sadly, two words come to mind when thinking about Mark Lanegan’s latest offering: deflated, as in the overall delivery of the vocals and lack of any real dynamics here, and present, simply because there is nothing outright bad to be found here in these 10 tracks, but nothing to text home about either. These tracks, much like Queen’s 1982 album, are simply taking up (hot) space…if you get that reference, you deserve to be reading this entry.
Immediately this Phantom Radio is at a disadvantage with the subpar opener “Harvest Home”. Not good, not bad, but simply, ‘present’. Shit doesn’t start to get real until we get to the halfway point.
“Seventh Day” I like (that’s I have to say). “Killing Season”, even as it sports dark lyrics and overtones, it seems like the odd song out with its pop sounding melody and synths. It certainly is unexpected, and can be off-putting on first impression, but becomes much more enjoyable upon further listens.
We go into Fistful of Dollars territory with “I Am The Wolf” (which ends up being more like a fistful of quarters). “The Wild People” and “Death Trip to Tulsa” are highlights on this album; the former somewhat reminiscent of QOTSA’s “Mosquito Song”, while the latter showcases that more Blues Funerals influence. “Death Trip” feels like the only song with real bite on the album, but ultimately suffers from the same flatness as the rest of these tracks.
Momentum seems to be the main culprit with this album, as Phantom Radio never really takes flight. A stronger second half somewhat makes up for the lackluster opening, but for every “Killing Season,” there’s several “I Am The Wolf”s to follow.
Subdued vocals and instrumentation leave something to be desired and results in a not too exciting release form the Mark Lanegan Band. There are some really nice tunes to be found on the back half, and while the album as a whole is a nice listen, it offers nothing that warrants a spot on your playlist.