Ume's 'Phantoms' is a Solid Bet
Words by Keanan The Barbarian
Ume’s Phantoms album is a driving force. Let’s throw some math rock, indie pop, some tremolo and reverb, and a strong female lead inot the mix and compress it into a CD. Slightly under the radar since their first EP Sunshower in 2009, their 2011 release Phantoms tries to pull many musical elements together while giving you a pretty roundabout sample of a listening experience – and does so pretty well.
As an admitted listener that has trouble getting into female-lead (singer) groups, this one’s got something worth noting. Not sure if it’s the use of her whole range – songs like “Burst” have a nice build and dynamic treble clef spread throughout the whole song – or her tendency to stay in tune and time, right with the music, rather than try and lead the band and overpower the songs like many lead singers do.
“Captive”’s break downs about 45 seconds in and then just after two minutes in add a nice element, then pick back up right into the same guitar lines stringing through the whole song. I’d like to hear a bit more intricate lines or some leads coming out – their pocket is pretty tight, and the guitars have nice hooks in most every song, but I feel some need for something to jump in and pull us into the bridge or even an outro.
Many of the songs pull some minor key riffs and synths to lay the base layer of the song. “The Push”, for example, starts it out making me feel almost wanting to bang my head along with the beat… but then after a while I’m seeking the next song.
That being said, I really like the almost surf-rock feel of “Destroyer – which happens to be the next song
– and how it builds the full way to the last ten seconds, slowly falls apart, and trails off. Pretty cool effect after a (for today’s standards) long song.
All together, Ume’s Phantoms is a good listen. It’s interesting, though – examples from their live show (see the picture) set off a completely different feel and ‘air’ than their studio work (both music and pictures – see the other one). It’s hard to capture that live feeling and sound in the studio, but its an interesting simile – the pictures kind of demonstrate it, too.
I know some groups don’t enjoy comparisons, but when we’re talking new independent bands I find it nearly necessary. It seems another entry into the alternative pool for those with the likes for Stars, Bat for Lashes, and Metric. Throw a little Jezabels in there and a handful of The Joy Formidable and you’ve got a pretty solid spread of tight lines and direction.
If you’re looking for some new tunes this album is worth a look. Be sure to check them out live, as their performances at SXSW and while on tour demonstrate this group’s a pretty solid bet. Check them out on Facebook.