Alright, I'll come right out and say it. No holding back now. I'm just going to come clean. Lay it all on the line. I've got to get this off my chest. For all my peeps. Get ready for the 4-1-1. Here it is…
I like Phantom Planet.
Not really that earth shattering when you get right down to it. But add to that the fact that I'm not a fourteen year old girl infatuated with one of cute guys in the band and it might become a little more disturbing.
The simple fact is that Phantom Planet makes likable pop songs. Is there really anyone of us who didn't like that song "California" when they first heard it? (At this point in time, unless you are an avid O.C. viewer, you may find it a bit annoying but way back you liked it.) I imagine young teenagers getting into the car with their parents, putting on any one of Phantom Planets' albums, and the parents being filled with a warm glow. A sunshine-y goodness. They would think to themselves 'Well, this isn't so bad. I've raised a good kid. There's hardly any traffic. I love my life.' Because the fact of the matter is, Phantom Planet is to music as sporks are to eating utensils. They can barely cut a tater tot let alone hurt someone.
So why all this talk about Phantom Planet when I'm reviewing The Films? Well, when I first listened to The Films EP they were the first band I thought of. The vocals of Michael Trent have the same kind of sliding quality that Alex Greenwald has. Kind of an earnest laziness that doesn't bother me though I think it should. There is a keyboard. Both groups give the impression that they are happy great guys that you'd want to bring home to mother. Really the connection between the bands is tenuous at best. It is the songs that really cement the comparison between the two.
Or does it?
When I went back to listen to the CD again (and again and again as this CD lends itself to repeated listening), I really started listening and every song has a little bit of malice in it. They are dangerous. You would never hear Phantom Planet singing about how they were fall down drunk and how they were bleeding. The hand claps in "Black Shoes" could just as easily be face slaps. If Phantom Planet are sporks, then The Films are the guys that stole your dessert, gave an innocent 'Who me?' smile to the lunch lady, and then got you in trouble somehow. Alright, so the metaphor doesn't hold up but the sentiment does. They guys are dangerous and that makes them interesting. Somewhere soon, parents will get into their cars and as they make their way to the malls of America a feeling of unease will creep into their thoughts as The Films play over the car stereo. 'Did I leave the oven on?'
The only fault that I can find with this album is that it is an EP. Three songs aren't enough. The first song, "That Kind of Day", starts the album off with a bang as it is counted off growing quickly from a snarl to a scream. We hear the frustration of a man who just can't seem to catch a break. On "Black Shoes", a guy is trying to convince someone he's already had a fight with to not fight again while secretly hoping that there will be another because 'we just might take him for everything he owns.' (Litigious humor in a rock song? Come on! You got to love this!) The third and final song, "Come On", describes a guy waiting for someone to come and bail him out of jail after a bar fight. When did Phantom Planet every get in a bar fight? They didn't. I seriously can't wait for a whole album. I want this band in my life so I can write off Phantom Planet. Because when you get right down to it, do you really want to listen to the rock band that is giving you driving directions or the rock band that is singing about debauchery and being falling down drunk?