How to Live with a Phantom

How to Live with a Phantom

by Shintaro Sakamoto
     
 

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There's nothing particularly wispy or ethereal about Shintaro Sakamoto's How to Live with a Phantom, but the former Yura Yura Teikoku frontman does do a masterful job of channeling bossa nova, soft rock, disco, and folk-rock into a '70s pop fantasia. It's a big change from his days with that long-running psych-rock outfit, but

Overview

There's nothing particularly wispy or ethereal about Shintaro Sakamoto's How to Live with a Phantom, but the former Yura Yura Teikoku frontman does do a masterful job of channeling bossa nova, soft rock, disco, and folk-rock into a '70s pop fantasia. It's a big change from his days with that long-running psych-rock outfit, but then again, Yura Yura Teikoku were so freewheeling over their double-decade career that it seemed that Sakamoto could be capable of anything once freed from what little constraints the band put on him. How to Live with a Phantom is a resolutely solo album: Sakamoto recorded it largely by himself and even learned how to play bass so that he could write and record those parts on his own (and his basslines are a driving force here). This independent streak gives How to Live with a Phantom a simplicity and purity that transcends its influences; yes, the album sounds like it's full of shimmering pastel colors and could very well be the perfect soundtrack for sitting in a hot tub or gazing at a sunset, but it's also surprisingly restrained and mercifully irony-free, considering Sakamoto's sonic palette. The saxophone solo on "You Just Decided" sounds playful and even a bit classy instead of sleazy or overbearing, while the drum machine on "Something's Different" adds a little kitsch without getting in the way of the pretty flute melody. Instead, everything works toward the album's breezy sweetness, particularly on reveries like "My Memories Fade" and "Small But Enough," and mischievous detours such as the excellent, disco-tinged "Mask on Mask" and funky "A Stick and Slacks" only bring the set down to earth enough so that it doesn't float away entirely. Meanwhile, "In a Phantom Mood" and the title track recall Jim O'Rourke's pop albums at their most sophisticated and subversive; like O'Rourke, Sakamoto commits so completely to (seemingly) straightforward pop that it may surprise some fans, but it's this complete dedication that makes How to Live with a Phantom so winning.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/17/2012
Label:
Fat Possum Records
UPC:
0767981127620
catalogNumber:
22
Rank:
69824

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