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Album Review
Phantom Radio

Phantom Radio
by Mark Lanegan Band

Vagrant / Flooded Soil

Review Date
12th November 2014
Reviewed by
Paul Larsen

For a man with one of the most consistently recognisable baritones in the business, Mark Lanegan has a special talent for being able to introduce any number of different styles into his music. From grungy beginnings, to early folk-country solo efforts and onto the alt-rock sound of Bubblegum, the evolution of the Lanegan sound is slow moving but noticeable from afar, like the sediment layers of a rock face.

Phantom Radio marks the ninth studio album from the enigmatic crooner and after a run of solo and covers records, it also marks the return of his full band last seen on 2012’s excellent Blues Funeral album. It’s also noticeable for a surprising but welcome introduction of electronica into the mix. Without being at the expense of Lanegan’s trademark somber songwriting, the addition of a backbeat and floating synths instead lend an impetus to tracks like ‘Floor of the Ocean’ and ‘The Killing Season’ which otherwise might have lacked a certain direction.

Aside from this new element, there won’t be too much to dissuade existing fans. Lanegan’s brooding vocals only seem to get smokier with each record and his songwriting more profound. There’s always been an element of despair and death in the best of his writing but it’s more pronounced here, peaking with album closer, ‘Smokestack Magic’ and its repeated refrain: “You make me feel like I’ve already died”. It might not be a summertime hit, but for those of us who like a bit of anguish with our beach weather, it’s just the frequency.



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