“The Phantom Light name originates from a 1935 film of the same name which follows the disappearance of two lighthouse keepers stationed on the desolate coast of Wales. It’s a haunting early example of the work of the visionary director Michael Powell, and resonated with founder members frontman Anthony Jones and drummer Matty James, who had grown up staring out from the shorelines of Swansea”
The above statement from the bands biography conjures up all sorts of imagery in one’s head. The sea can be a source of solace in times of great stress – it can also play the role of reminding a fragile human of the power of Mother Nature. Remember kids – we can love the ocean, but the ocean doesn’t love us. It just is. The Phantom Light take inspiration from the sea and their surroundings in Wales (that’s the part of the UK that isn’t Scotland, Northern Ireland, or England). The music at time recalls bands from the classic era of the Shoegazing scene (Slowdive, Ride, My Bloody Valentine) whilst also displaying the uncanny ability to provide melodies in abundance. At times throughout this stunning EP I was reminded of early Genesis (Peter Gabriel era) and late 70’s era Magazine. Whatever you want to call this mix of styles, one thing is certain – this is a record that belongs in your collection.
A Rose in the Avalanche (EP breakdown)
The EP gets started off with the title track, Sky Lanterns. The music gradually fades into focus, washes of ambient music before the vocals enter the mix. Dream-like with a catchy melody. This is a perfect lead-off track. “you know what you’re after / you know what you like” – truer words have never been spoken, have they? The music builds to an awe-inspiring crescendo of noise with the soothing vocals of Anthony Jones remaining a constant. The Greater Picture has an introduction that reminds me of something off of a Peter Gabriel record for some reason – epic, yet with a pop slant. The band settles into an entrancing groove, emotion oozing of Jones’ voice. White noise threatens to envelope the proceedings yet the melodic sensibility is always lurking. Perfection. Lighthouse on Fire has a synth introduction that sounds jarring on first listen, it’s pop leanings fighting against the more straightforward rock music. Very catchy and memorable. “nothing left for anyone” is a lyric that sticks in my mind. A Rose in the Avalanche has an amazing guitar introduction, a repetitive refrain that’ll lodge itself in your cerebral cortex. The music builds and gains momentum with an atmospheric piano refrain lending weight to the entire affair. Vocals come don’t come into the mix until 4 minutes have gone by. An epic feeling permeates the mix. D & D is the 2nd epic song in a row and closes out the EP. A mournful guitar lick is front and center in the mix, along with restrained vocals “It seems that I / It seems that I / …am done” will remain lodged in your brain after this track has been played through. The track in general reminds me of some of the great songs off of the Lusk album, Free Mars. Melodic musings give way to pure noise for the final minute, leaving this listen gasping for air and reaching for another sip of manly blueberry wine.
You can pick up the EP via the bands Bandcamp site located here. Make sure to follow the band on Facebook and check out what they are up to via their official website. Based on the strength of their debut EP, you can be sure I am looking forward to what comes next from The Phantom Light.
Verdict: Hints of Sunshine & Sadness by the Sea
For Fans of: Ride, Magazine, Genesis, Slowdive, Mansun, My Bloody Valentine