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Freddy and the Phantoms - Decline of the West Award winner

Freddy and the Phantoms
Decline of the West
by Daniel Stefanov at 01 August 2017, 12:31 PM

FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS hail from Copenhagen, but listening to them you could swear they come straight from Chicago's 1950's. "Decline of the West" a rock album with swing influences, or maybe a swing album with rock influences, or maybe right in the middle, but the Danes from FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS deliver a genuine-feeling mix of blues, jazz, rock and swing that is fascinating and hypnotizing to listen to. This being their fourth album, the band has established itself locally and somewhat internationally. This album is sure to expand that, as I find it hard to find any downsides to it. The album art is a classic work of art that is so beautiful yet random, it could have easily been anything between symphonic and prog metal, to atmospheric black or melodic death metal. The music is beautiful as well, however not at all random, everything in this album sounds carefully thought and assembled with attention.

The album opens on "Decline Of The West", which is so groovy, it immediately captures the attention. The calm but vivid atmosphere is enhanced by great piano, back vocals and guitar segments. "Kentucky Killer" is a more upbeat, but still very atmospheric track. The music sets the stage while the song is carried mainly by Frederik's voice, which is more than perfect. The electrifying guitar solo near the end further strengthens the song's energetic atmosphere. "City of Crime" is dominated by noir undertones and gentle guitars. "Call Me the Creature" is a pure rock song, and it definitely serves to show that FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS are absolutely in command of that style as well. "Behind the Curtain" mixes country elements with the known swing rock to create an early 20th century American suburban atmosphere that is both harsh and beautiful. "The Last Café", sitting comfortably in the middle of the record, is perhaps the staple of this release. The track is slow and powerful at first, with a gentle instrumental section in the middle, but gearing up towards a faster and more powerful delivery in the second half, before ending with a mind-bending guitar solo.

The second half of the album does several fresh takes on the motifs established in the first half. Songs like "NYC 1965" and "Brownstone Badlands" show that Frederik is in total command of the vocal delivery and feels comfortable under the spotlight, regardless if it's a mellow or a harsh track, slow or fast, colorful or dark, the man's got it covered. Which can be said for every other member as well – every instrument shows heart, brilliant musicianship, professionalism, and understanding of the atmosphere that the song carries. That is especially notable in the final two songs, which give more freedom to everyone in the band to dominate the scene for a while. The album gets a bit harder towards the end, focusing the swing and jazz elements in the first half and the rock and blues in the second. Closing on the slow rock classic that is "Mr. Pig" ensures that FREDDY AND THE PHANTOMS will haunt the listener's mind for quite a while after the record is over. If there is anything more I could ask from this album, it's a pure female-fronted swing track, even a short one. On the next album, maybe, I will definitely look forward to it!

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Decline Of The West
2. Kentucky Killer
3. City Of Crime
4. Call Me The Creature
5. Behind The Curtain
6. The Last Café
7. Transition Blues
8. NYC 1965
9. Brownstone Badlands
10. The Wild Ones (Revisited)
11. Mr. Pig
Frederik Schnoor - Vocals, Guitars
Rune Hansen - Drums, Tambourines
Morten Rahm - Guitars
Mads Wilken - Bass
Anders Haahr - Keyboards
Record Label: Mighty Music


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