Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phantom returns with new album "Phantom Theory"

Three-member group Phantom returns with their new album "Phantom Theory."

I loved their previous album "Phantom City." The songs on the album were an easy listen and they made a good balance on what works for all three members and their styles. However, this album was pretty disappointing in comparison to their first.

Starting off with "Hide & Chic," I still feel like Kiggen (member of Phantom and also one of the primary producers of Phantom's songs) needs to get over the Far East Movement phase in his life by not adding autotune and making it go up & down in every note on the music scale. He's already received criticisms before about "Hole In Your Face" sounding a little like Rocketeer before, so let's cross fingers that he won't do it in the future (a girl can hope). The beat in the beginning definitely catches your ear and then it becomes a real hot mess after that. It was honestly the wrong people working with the wrong beat in my opinion. I also feel that this is their song to promote Microdot, younger brother of Sanchez, who could possibly sign under Brand New Music after some recognition.

In the case of "Dutch Pay," it's the opposite of the prior song in which the beat was a wrong fit. The lyrics is a fun read, coming from a guy's perspective of wanting to split pay between him and a girl versus the guy always paying on his own. Phantom always has clever lyrics which is what got them noticed before through their "19 Song," a catchy compilation of lyrics from songs that were deemed 19+ by MOGEF. I guess I thought this would be more fitting with a gentle beat like "Seaweed Soup Song" so this song was more so of a pass for me.

I love Sanchez's vocals here in "The Things I Can Do." He holds a very rare kind of vocals because you hardly hear male vocals sing in high pitch, let alone this high of a pitch (Junggigo often hits high notes at peaks of his songs and Bumkey, fellow artist under Brand New Music, sings in high pitch but still a few keys below Sanchez). A random fact, but I started liking Phantom because of Hanhae but I feel like his rapping wasn't really applied very well here (no comment on Kiggen's rapping because I never have comments on it), so that was a little disappointing. You can pretty much listen to this as Sanchez's solo song.

Everything was going well in "Fingernail" until I heard someone who sounds like Dok2 and then I grew confused. I'm not sure if that's supposed to be Kiggen making his voice sound like Dok2 or if this Dok2 soundalike is the "HJ" person featuring in the track, but regardless this is probably my favorite from the album so far. Guitar riff always wins me over and it was nicely played when Phantom all toned down for the song, not making things dramatic and messy.

Oh no, I wanted to believe the Dok2 soundalike from "Fingernail" was the hopeful HJ person but it's back here in "I'll Talk Plainly" so I'm 99.9% positive it's Kiggen...moving on (because Dok2 is never worth the subject), the beat is too chaotic and spazzy for my liking, but Hanhae's rap suits the beat (he's sampled similar chaotic, loud beats for some of the mixtapes in his tracks before) so that part worked out. As I'm live-reviewing this while I listen to it, I'm on the verge of turning this off because if goes back to Kiggen and he suddenly shifted from Dok2 to G-Dragon (my two most favorite people ever). The song has hit rock-bottom where everything and everything went from a decently obnoxious song to a low class "One of a Kind" remix.

Last but not least, their title track "Like Cho Yong Pil." Here's a link to the song without all of the cringe-worthy acting for a straight-through listen. The organization of the song and the buildup of it reminds me of their debut song "Burning" but a much softer version of it. The song also has no affiliation with senior artist Cho Yong Pil with the exception of their one line saying "I'm never going to change and continue singing like Cho Yong Pil" and talks about their love story. A decent listen for a title track that Brand New Music can abuse with press releases about how they respect Cho Yong Pil and gather interest from an older generation than just teens and people in their 20s. Hitting two birds with one stone, but not hitting my birdie of approval.

Not their best but you can't expect much from a three-member group in which one of the members loves Far East Movement and samples it in everything he produces (even during his Hybrefine days). It's a good thing Brand New Music is smart in using a softer-key song for them to promote and I will wait another few months for them to release something hopefully better than what I just spent an hour writing about here.


  1. I really have a hard time checking out new music unless it's laid out like this in review form. It's just so much easier to follow along and have mini discussions with the author in your head as you're listening to it.

    With that said, I feel like Phantom has really solidified what type of style they are as a unit with this album and Sanchez has proven himself to be the one carrying a lot of the weight for them. He's outstanding and I'm glad they're utilizing that. While I could see Phantom working without Hanhae or Kiggen, I feel like the very foundation of the unit would fall apart with Sanchez. Hanhae, I don't know... I still wonder if he's the right fit here. I just feel like he was added for the boost in fanbase and visual (there's no arguing he has the most fans and can be catered to a younger audience).

  2. Hmm, I think that "Dok2 soundlike" is actually Sanchez.

  3. And Uncharted Sound has resurrected.

    I agree with nb with how Phantom is very centered around Sanchez and may be more appropriately called Sanchez and the Others. I think Hanhae and Sanchez have the potential to have some really great harmonic vocals in the chorus or bridge, but they only have Sanchez singing for the most part so it makes me a little sad.
    As for their "roles/positions," I think the only person that should be rapping in Phantom is Hanhae. Sanchez's and Kiggen's rapping voice and flow are a bit... odd most of the time? The only thing Kiggen seems to be good with regarding the use of his vocals is talk-singing.
    And for the overall music, I agree with the review about the confusing beats (I think I even heard a bit of Lovey Dovey-esque sounds in Dutch Pay which... smh.) It sucks cause I really want to like Phantom and anticipate them because I like Hanhae's and Sanchez's voices, but their predebut releases have been more impressive to me than their album releases imo. When a song looks like it fits one member, it sounds completely backwards for another member, and I just don't know if they have found the right blend for everyone yet. But they seem to be going with the emotional-ballady-pop genre (is that a genre...?) for their title tracks which works for them, but I want to see them excel in other genres too without so much reliance on Sanchez.

  4. Completely agree with everything the above comments have said.
    I really wanted to like Phantom Theory, because Phantom City was fun and all, but I stopped playing it a week after I bought it - but now it seems like Phantom Theory will be the same.
    Phantom really does seems like Sanchez and the Others on their title songs and The Things I Can Do was pretty much a Sanchez solo - am I the only one getting tired of hearing Sanchez pulling off the same high notes song after song though? I'd really like to see Phantom evolve into something more than just "emotional-ballady-pop" but Sanchez and Kiggen need to step up their raps. I acknowledge Sanchez's ability to reach those high notes, but Hanhae is the only member that continuously draws me into the group. Kiggen's start in Fingernail is maybe the best I've heard from him (biased toward deeeeep voices), but his range is too low at times to make his raps powerful against Sanchez's high pitches.
    As for the Dok2-soundalike on Fingernail, I believe it's Sanchez and I actually enjoy that part, just because I always feel like Sanchez's raps are too emphasized and a bit rushed at times so hearing him finally lay back during his rap was a good change.