Ume - Phantoms
Record Label: Modern Outsider Records
Release Date: August 29, 2011
Ume is one of the most prolific bands in the indie rock scene, and I have only recently been introduced to the reason why. Their debut album, Urgent Sea, characterized them as some sort of weird indie-grunge combination, with rough production and distortion, and even rougher vocal performances from Lauren and Eric. With the Sunshower EP, the band’s progression moved farther away from their abrasive origins into the mystical land of indie-pop. Now, we are affronted by the stunning success that is Phantoms.
Phantoms turns out to be a perfect blend of the most appealing attributes from the two previous releases. The vocal production and alterations have maintained themselves since Sunshower, giving lead vocalist Lauren Larson’s timid, whispering voice a powerful reinforcement of mysticism in its carry. In addition, the instrumentation also continues to have a very strong melodic focus, giving the overall song structure the signature definition of indie-pop. To contrast, however, Phantoms incorporates Urgent Sea’s grittiness, with an incredibly impressive layer of fluidity in the guitar distortion, giving the typified sugary indie-pop melodies a shove in the direction of post-rock’s textures and math rock’s ferocious complexity. All the while, the percussion remains consistently authoritative in controlling the direction of each track.
The result of this medley is something to be reckoned with. It’s essentially like experiencing a trip through the storm wall of a hurricane. Standing alone, the torrent has an elegant air typified in nature, but its power cannot be judged by its appearance. This album will suck you in despite your protests and carry you far, far away in its visceral energy. The rolling waves of distortion are unrelenting and chaotic, only given coordination by the work’s momentum itself. Amidst all of this, Lauren’s seductive, enchanting voice still rings clear thanks to phenomenal production, drawing the listener into the swirl of distortion with the allure of the siren’s call. The compositions take a life of their own inside Phantoms, with the various musicians serving only as catalysts for its summoning. As it develops throughout the course of the album, the listener is subjected to a frenetic exhilaration; a full-on adrenaline rush, something hard to find but well-appreciated.