Phantom Planet discovered the joys of rockin' out on their third, self-titled album, which felt designed to move them as far away from the piano-driven pop of The Guest as they could get. Four years later, they keep the volume turned up on Raise the Dead, also their first album for Fueled by Ramen. Their anthemic, rowdy sound makes a lot more sense on this label than it did on their previous imprints, and Phantom Planet just seem more comfortable all around on Raise the Dead. Their outbursts are more natural here than they were on Phantom Planet, especially on "Raise the Dead," where they feel completely in control of how the song moves from brisk acoustic guitars to a huge swell of strings and guitars. And even if they still don't go near The Guest's wistful ballad territory — "Quarantine" bares its broken heart with an edge, and "I Don't Mind" is more bouncy than brooding — Phantom Planet balance their brash side with their pop roots with a lot more flair. "Do the Panic"'s rough-and-tumble keyboards and guitars end up falling into place perfectly, "Ship Lost at Sea"'s piston-like drums are pushy and cute at the same time, and "Dropped" feels like a more polished sequel to Phantom Planet's "Bad Business." "Leave Yourself for Somebody Else" is Raise the Dead's purest pop moment, a bracing three minutes' worth of hooks, harmonies, and impatient rhythms. As comfortable as the band sounds on Raise the Dead, it isn't perfect: the chorus of children on "Leader" teeters between charming and cloying, and a few of the later songs, including "Demon Daughters" and "Geronimo," cross the line from loud and rambunctious to just plain screechy. Even with a few stumbles, Raise the Dead is among Phantom Planet's most enjoyable albums. -AMG
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