Incorporating many different styles and genres is always risky. It tends to be indicative of a band that lacks direction, is unsure of their own identity, or a group that is simply trying to do much. But proficiently blending different styles is always impressive and can be indicative of growth in an artist.
Champaign-Urbana act The Phantom Broadcast seem to have finally mastered their sound with Sublimation Love in a remarkably smooth and cohesive way. The band implements elements of rock, jazz, and math rock in an entirely original way. The Phantom Broadcast is jazzy and polished and this EP seems to be the launching point for a project that is finally hitting its stride.
The opening track, “Cortex,” says everything about what The Phantom Broadcast is trying to be. The song has a solid rock base with bombastic horns supporting the track and closes with a gorgeous viola sneaking its way into the forefront of the track. What is most remarkable is that none of these instruments sound forced or in any way gimmicky. These elements coexist with each other in highly complimenting ways. “Lithium Queen” sees the band show a side of progressive rock while bass and guitar lines dual impressively. The track also sees switches in time signature and some subtle jazz drumming reminiscent of how Connie Kay drummed on Astral Weeks. The final track “Wish” features a funky sax solo bursting through ethereal instrumentation.
Sublimation Love gives the listener a lot to digest because there are so many different styles going on and the band layers their instruments on each other so well. Parts of this album can draw comparisons to acts as diverse as The National, The Mars Volta, Say Anything, and even American Football, who share the same hometown The Phantom Broadcast currently does. The performances by drummer James Sims are absolutely remarkable and really drive all four tracks, while the Phantom Broadcast clearly has ambitious visions and a high ability to execute.