In the album’s leadup Phantastic Ferniture have often pointed out that it all came together as a bit of a joke. But this record is anything but. They cut an exceptional debut.
Julia Jacklin’s Don’t Let The Kids Win provides a useful reference. When it dropped back in ’16 it was masterful exercise of cool understatement. But even with Jacklin's distinctive presence is at it's core Phantastic Ferntiure isn’t exactly the same.
It’s very much a band record. Each member casts their own presence. It’s a good thing, this is an album which courses with an all-so-important rub of musical personalities. It’s a big part of what’s animating these songs.
So onto the said songs. There’s honest heartbreakers and snatches of folksie contemplation. But for the most part this group gears it up. These tunes are intent on getting listeners on their feet.
And perhaps that’s a large part of what Phantastic Ferniture is all about. This is an outfit looking to get to the opposite of cerebral. This isn’t Leonard Cohen. There’s a bigger world to break into, one of loose rockers and bar band charm. Jacklin’s vocals are a draw. Her formidable talent is thrown in front of a rich and textured backdrop. It all breathes with a sense of space, righteous enough to appease the rockers but pristine enough for mass consumption.
‘Uncomfortable Teenager’ lays out expressive guitar play before ‘Take It Off’ and ‘Fucking ‘n’ Rolling’ go searching for easy love. There’s an undercurrent of angst. This is music built on the feeling that comes with looking for something you’ll never truly understand.
For some reason today was reading about Ry Cooder – don’t ask why - and queued the Stones’ Let It Bleed to stream after Ferniture. Now the two are in no way connected more than in the sense that everything is connected in that weird and tenuous way. But put them beside one another, the two albums that they are, and take note.
Countrified sound, vocals distinctly their own mingling with occasional raunch, solid guitar licks, paired-down-to-the-slickest bass and a drummer that follows. A little less honk ‘n’ tonk, but again it’s all the same you know? The listening suggestion here is to let it rock.