It’s quite unusual to find a tune cut fresh from the shadows of Brit-pop, a chip off the old rock block, a dazzling gem of a song that manages to hook you with its glint, abandoning the tired smirk of irony in the process.
Somehow, however, West Lothian’s The Phantoms, with their new single ‘Shadows’, have created such a tune.
At just over three minutes, ‘Shadows’ wastes no time in stirring its bright guitar melodies over a crunchy wall of feedback, leading us into an atmospheric belter that would sit easily alongside noughties indie-rock revivalists if not for the certain streak of darkness that overlies The Phantoms’ repetitive, almost incantatory lyrics.
This slightly sinister insistence on repetition recalls the intense refrains of a Joy Division song, although The Phantoms reveal less a post-punk legacy than that of a black-hearted Brit-pop, translating their furious swirls of guitar and thumping drums into a cleaner energy, brushed at the edges with the roughness of garage.
Sharp hooks and a soaring chorus make this a stadium ready single, with the punch of a good clean solo, driving beats and Colin Simpson’s assured vocal delivery.
It’s an expansion of sound from previous single, ‘Wasting Time’, where darker, more claustrophobic beats draw a vibrating underworld around Simpson’s bitter, dystopian lyrics—“what you know was made of lies”—which connect the personal to the political and leave us, seductively, with more questions than answers: “where do we go / nobody knows”.
This sense of disorientation and fear finds a more vigorous expression on ‘Shadows’, which takes the infectious and sweeping stadium rock of Kasabian and translates the Leicester boys’ swagger into an urgent expression of imminent terror, a twist of old Scottish gothic, the shadows that lie inexplicably before us.
The song closes with a resonant coil of white noise and electric reverb that sounds a bit like the weather gone wrong, the rasp of speakers pushed to their limits, an unsettling twist on the denouement of a straight-up rock song.
It’s details like this, combined with the urgency of their lyrics and the addictive riffs that demand instant replay, that make The Phantoms a band to watch; surely it won’t be long before sky-sized songs like this are filling out arenas.
Words: Maria Sledmere