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CD Reviews:  Phantom Planet: The Guest

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The young men of Phantom Planet have redefined the "silver spoon" scenario. With bloodlines that run to director Francis Ford Coppola, actress Talia Shire and singer/songwriter John Farrar (composer of the "Grease" soundtrack), these L.A. transplants appear locked and loaded for stunning success, right? Toss in Tchad Blake and Mitchell Froom (who together have Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow and Paul McCartney on their resumes) to produce the new record, The Guest, and this has got to be a Grammy in the making, right? Not so fast.

This sophomore effort from Hollywood's part-time actors and modeling darlings is a fun and simple cup of melody-happy alt-rock that bounces from Beach Boys to Ben Folds Five to Radiohead. The piano romp "California" is the catchiest moment, tailor-made for a summertime soundtrack, and it opens the album on a high. The wispy "Lonely Day" visits The Mommas And The Papas 1960s stylings, with an opening verse that recalls melodies of The Partridge Family. Mind you, Phantom Planet doesn't allow The Guest to stay stuck in the 60s for long. These lucky sperm clubbers realize that without noisy guitars and alternative beats, like "In Our Darkest Hour," they wouldn't be able to land their opportune gigs at The Whiskey or Viper Room. So they dash haphazardly back and forth from made-for-radio ballads ("Anthem") to Brit Pop rip-offs ("One Ray of Sunlight") to a near Go Go's tribute ("Hey Now Girl").

While Phantom Planet's originality and gritty conviction may not bowl you over, this new book of songs manages to remain interesting for no other reason than its diversity. Singer/guitarist Alex Greenwald, who you might recognize from various GAP ads, pulls from so many influences and genres that even the stagnant moments of The Guest take on a life of their own. Maybe these guys need to surrender their day jobs and see what happens when they pour all their time into making music.

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