“Why do I always write themed albums? I like each album to be sort of its own self-contained universe.” -Josh Ramsay
Nearly four years after the release of their album Astoria, Marianas Trench have finally scratched the itch for their fans by releasing their new album Phantoms. Major excitement and anticipation surrounded the announcement of the album following the release of singles “I Knew You When,” “Only The Lonely Survive,” and “Echoes of You.”
This time, the album follows the theme of a haunted house; inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s ghost stories and his infatuation with madness. Josh Ramsay explains that a haunted house, to him, is a metaphor for love loss and rebirth, which inspired a lot of the lyrics on the album.
I, like many other fans of Marianas Trench, have been patiently awaiting new music since the release of stand-alone single “Rhythm of Your Heart” back in 2017, and I can easily say that I was far from disappointed.
Phantoms opens up with the beautiful, strong harmonies of “Eleanora.” The song is completely a capella, allowing the listener to fully experience and enjoy every note. The opening chord, which is repeated throughout the album, consistently gives me chills every time I hear it. While the song itself is only a minute and eight seconds long, it is the perfect length to set the scene of the album as well as showcase the talent that the band possesses.
The second single to be released off the album was upbeat “Only The Lonely Survive.” This track is filled with a hard-hitting kick drum, haunting guitar melodies, and painfully true lyrics that tell the story of the reality of love. Ramsay sings of “every kiss suspending gravity,” saying how the tragic crash is only being held off for a brief moment. This song is the first of many on the album that showcases Josh Ramsay’s talent and killer vocal range.
“Echoes of You” was the third and final single to be released from Phantoms. Utilizing staccato rhythms in both the instrumental and melody, along with chilling string chords and a harpsichord, increased the suspense and intensity feel of the entire song. The song slowly builds until it finally explodes into this intensely beautiful moment of layered harmonies and instrumentals that immediately gave me chills the first time I listened to it.
“Don’t Miss Me?” tells the story of the mixed feelings that come in the late aftermath of a breakup. It explains how you rarely think about that person, you don’t miss them, but you can’t help but wonder if they don’t miss you as well. The song has ties to the band’s 80s pop influences with a modern twist to it.
When I first listened to “Wish You Were Here” I was instantly given Astoria vibes off the song. It’s that crisp, clean, pop track that’s upbeat and makes you want to dance. One of the most impressive aspects of this song, as well as the entire album, is they produced an electronic sound using real instruments; keeping everything authentic. This song is an all around fun track that can even get people who aren’t fans of Marianas Trench tapping their foot.
Due to their versatile and unique sound, I often find it hard to place Marianas Trench in one specific genre of music. However, “Your Ghost” easily falls under the Pop category of music. Much like “Wish You Were Here” this track is upbeat and fun, embodying the classic Marianas Trench sound we all know and love.
“Glimmer” is easily one of my favorite tracks off of Phantoms. It is one of the only ballads found on the album but it is absolutely beautiful. With strong resemblance to “One Love” off of Astoria, Glimmer truly sparkles with a gorgeous melody and heartfelt lyrics. The song slowly builds until it explodes into the huge last chorus, with plenty of iconic melodic accents from Josh Ramsay floating over the main melody.
The first single to be released off the album was “I Knew You When.” This song takes a unique spin on what a modern-day pop song would sound like, all while using authentic and live instruments. Rather then using electronic synths for the fill in the middle of the chorus, they decided to follow the path of tubas and other brass instruments to give the song a much more authentic feel. It is a catchy, upbeat song, perfect for a first single release.
The transition from “I Knew You When” into “The Death of Me” is seamless and is one of my favorite elements of the album. The song itself gradually builds into this powerhouse of a rock song laced with pop elements and a natural electronic undertone. It then winds down with a gorgeous call and answer between a clarinet and cello that grows into a haunting outro, leading into the final track of the album.
Hands down my favorite song on Phantoms, the album goes out with a bang ending with “The Killing Kind.” Don’t be deceived by the simplicity that the song starts off with. The entire track gradually builds, adding tension as more and more instruments are brought in. Much like their previous albums, “The Killing Kind” alludes to key topics from the rest of the album, featuring lyrics from “Eleanora” and “Echoes of You.” Josh Ramsay shows off his insane vocal range once again throughout this track to give this album the epic closing it deserves.
Overall, I was genuinely impressed with Phantoms. The story of the haunted house and decent into madness is beautifully written in a series of chilling harmonies and instrumentals. Waiting four years for your favorite band to release a new album sets a pretty high bar; but this album blew every single expectation I could’ve possibly had, out of the water.