When it comes to reflecting on the high octane, shoegaze dreamy meets blistering/relentlessly cool electric guitar fired Brooklyn based rockers Phantom Wave, it’s hard to top the colorful description fashioned by Ian Carpenter (guitar, vocals) and drummer Rachel Fischer – who trimmed down from the quartet that recorded their 2018 debut EP Sixer to a hard slammin’ hypnotic duo for their full-length debut Wilds. “Phantom Wave,” they say, “lives in the difference between propulsive drive and radiant fluidity.”
We can surely add a few more descriptors to the mix – let’s try “steamrolling wall of hipster sonic insanity,” “moody jangling that explodes into a mind-bending sonic intricacies and production pyrotechnics,” for starters - as we immerse in any number of these 12 infectious and spirited ear-piercing gems. To focus on their most recent lead singles, there’s the trippy, ongoing breakneck shift between dreamy atmospheric sweetness to a crunchy wall of fuzz and distortion on “Billows” – and the scorching wall of ambience and electrifying crackle of “Glower,” whose occasional mellower bars allow a momentary seduction into the sultry 80 synth band charms of Carpenter’s vocals.
Buried a bit in the intense mix, their lyrics are pretty much open to the listener’s groovy interpretation, but a few key phrases from these two tracks stand out as kind of summing up where the musical road leads us: “Sometimes flying you are/Castaway stars. . .and how what you doing?” (“Billows”) and “The sky shielding/Hours reeling/Days are winning/Different ways to live. . .Throw the curtain down/Shake the ground/Feel the sun again…” (“Glower”). Carpenter’s repetition in the latter song of “Let’s talk about it” feels like an open invitation to dig deeper into Phantom Wave’s messaging and expansive vibe. Choosing titles like “Anterograde” and “Amerinthine” which prompt us to Google is a good indication that they want us to get lost in the music, and if we feel so whimsically inclined, go deeper once we’re hooked.
While Carpenter and Fischer (a psychiatrist by trade) are super talented, multi-faceted musicians and dedicated artists, their bios let us know that they don’t want us to take them too seriously: “While releasing this album, they continue to work on writing new music, wearing face masks and eating burritos (not at the same time).” We also learn that on days before her med school exams, Fischer played shows in a Lower East Side squat house and that Carpenter “is currently curling up for these long winter nights with a guitar and goat stew in hand.” Imagine the fun they’ll start having when they can get out and play live again!