Personnel: Alex Greenwald (programming).
Recording information: Can Am, Tarzana, CA; Last Resort, Los Angeles, CA.
There are few bands with a name as befitting as Phases. Spawned from pieces of Rilo Kiley, Bright Eyes, Phantom Planet, Maroon 5, and the Like, they released their first album, Suicide Pact, under the moniker JJAMZ (formed using each member's initials). That debut was packed with fuzzed-out but ultimately forgettable indie rock. When they lost one of the Js to his day job with Maroon 5, they switched to Phases. After going through so many changes, they released their debut album, For Life. This is a stylish affair, for the late-night, downtown, cool kids party. Shiny '80s digital synth pop is the name of the game here, with some funky disco elements tossed in for good measure. The brightness of these gems ("I'm in Love with Life" and "Cooler" immediately jump out) is refreshing and uplifting, with vocalist Z. Berg's combination of Björk-meets-Taylor Swift sound elevating each song. Even the darker songs ("Vertigo" and "I Don't Know What's Right") sound more shimmering than sinister, bringing that downtown scenester vibe into the future. Even though this is their second release as a band, Phases' debut sounds little like JJAMZ. For Life brings the dingy club rock show into the nightclub, with groove and a smile. ~ Neil Z. Yeung