Audio Mixer: Steven Ward.
Releasing a companion album whose genesis lies within the sessions from a previous work often seems like a questionable move for an artist. Isn't there a reason those tracks were abandoned the first time around? Must the same well be revisited so soon? For Scotland's ever-unpredictable indie unit the Phantom Band, the risk paid off, as they do indeed return to the fertile ground of 2014's Strange Friend to conjure up seven remarkably potent new tracks on their anagrammatically titled follow-up Fears Trending. Calling it the darker sibling of Strange Friend isn't quite accurate, as that album had plenty of its own darkness to contend with. Still, there is a distinct undertone of menace here, especially on tracks like "Denise Hopper" and "Black Tape" supporting this claim. Themes of alienation and online isolation give the album a windswept, unincorporated feeling, yet the unexpected unity that made Strange Friend such a cohesive set is also present on Fears. The Phantom Band offer the unique juxtaposition of passion without warmth as they draw you in with the kinetic power of the Alasdair Roberts-assisted synth-rocker "Tender Castle" or the stuttering, muscular "Spectrelegs." They're stylish, secretive, intelligent, highly creative and they keep you at arm's length. As a band, they have their own way of doing things and that includes magically producing a high quality-album using the scraps from their previous one. As a companion album or on its own two legs, Fears Trending was worth another trip to the well. ~ Timothy Monger