Phantom Caste hail from Fort Worth in Texas and set their stall out with footholds in the camps of shoegaze, post-punk and goth. Attempting to merge these influences in to a coherent whole would be no mean feat but it’s been achieved by the likes of Chapel Club and The Horrors in recent years and this foursome give it their best shot on their self-produced debut album.
‘Here In Hundreds’ opens with glistening guitars and effects caught halfway between The Cocteau Twins and, indeed, The Horrors. From the outset though there is a danger of the vocals struggling to become submerged above the noise in a manner that wouldn’t happen, say, with Puressence. Furthermore, the military percussion which ushers in ‘Atlas’ promises gothic melodrama but – despite picking up its urgency by the song’s conclusion – it ends up sounding like a watered-down Interpol.
However, three tracks in, for ‘Cavlier’, the group seem to be on the same page as the singer adds croaky vulnerability to a well arranged song whilst ‘Fates’ has a strong enough melody to be wordless. They truly hit top form towards the end of the record and ‘Fireworks’ is arguably their best song as falsettos twist around twanging guitar shapes; the song swooping between euphoria and darkness in a most appealing manner.
At the moment Phantom Caste sound too much like a mish-mash of the groups which have inspired them. Yet if they can reach out beyond their influences, this band could become something quite special.
The Horrors, Interpol