E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart
Category: Indie Rock
Album: Burn All the Documents
Blurb: Refreshingly familiar and excitingly modern, this latest and finely produced release from the Baltimore indie rock sensation is just that good.
Heroes of the Baltimore rock scene (or Balt. rock as some have affectionately called it), E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart is a band that has been through a few changes in the two years since the previous release, The Ghosts Around You single. With the addition of keyboardist Spacey Cuellar and front man/songwriter E. Joseph relocating to Philadelphia, the music on Burn All the Documents bares a feeling of urgency and immediacy, making even its slowest moments a rather energetic affair.
Right from the onset of “Screw Your Head Down,” this energy is apparent as the song blazes a trail of danceable rhythms a la drummer Nick Porcaro and shimmering guitars, the vocal interplay between E. Joseph and bassist Mia Regalado full of instant appeal too enjoyable not to sing along to. The same can be said for the de facto title track, “LA Ugly,” the harmonies and sardonic lyrics bearing traces of a tried and true ‘80s classic, Cuellar’s light touch on the keyboards adding a smooth and lush ambience that is simply delightful. “Vladimir” with its slow cadence and spacious buildup is an especially striking track that could easily conjure feelings akin to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” if filtered through the recollections of a broken childhood dream. “Mrs. Katie Downes” has perhaps the catchiest chorus decrying the notion of dying young and beautiful, while “Galaxy Dancer” ends the album with a crystalline and psychedelic display of interweaving guitar and keyboards that Pink Floyd would have been proud of.
Various influences resonate throughout Burn All the Documents; the sparse ringing guitar solo of “Nut House” coming across as something The Edge could have done in an early U2 song, while the juxtaposition of male and female vocals comes across as a combination of Elvis Costello and The Pixies. Yet, all of these elements form together into a cohesive and instantly identifiable indie rock sound that is as refreshingly familiar as it is excitingly modern. Finely produced and performed, Burn All the Documents is not an overly fanciful or frivolous album; it’s just excellent, like a good friend that one can always rely on.
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Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)