Phantoms

The Fixx

Geffen Records, 1984

http://www.thefixx.com

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/15/2020

I’ve always found The Fixx an interesting little band. While they were billed as New Wave during their 1980s heyday, they never quite fit that niche; they were too fond of bringing in fripperies and alterations from other musical styles ranging from goth to progressive to electronica (and this was in the days of the dinosaurs, O Ye DV Faithful, when we didn’t know what electronica was). Their lyrics could turn a phrase that would leave your eyebrows raised. In short, I find them interesting. What more reason to write about them?my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I had a copy of Phantoms, their 1984 album for years, but it vanished over the course of a few moves. The other day, I rediscovered it on A Musical Source That Shall Not Be Named, dusted it off metaphorically, and gave it a listen.

Bluntly, I think this is the most interesting album from “classic” The Fixx. I was never a huge fan of their big hits, “One Thing Leads To Another” or “Saved By Zero;” in the end, I found those songs to be lacking in substance. On Phantoms, their sound became more complex and darker, and the lyrical complexity was turned up a notch (“We all breath the same air // But we die for the airspace” being a favorite). The production, by ‘80s icon Rupert Hine, is crystalline and crisp; there’s a good bit of Yamaha DX-7 scattered all over this baby.

Songs? There the quality is a bit uneven. The highlights are “Are We Ourselves?” (which was a US Top 15 hit), the funky intro of “Lose Face,” the mad syncopation on “Question,” and the eerie “Phantom Living.” But it’s not all roses here: “Wish,” “Lost In Battle Overseas,” and “In Suspense” never quite come together. If Phantoms has a weakness, it’s in its cohesiveness. The sound is smooth and even, but the styles and songwriting can sometimes be like a train wreck in slow motion.

So is Phantoms worth a listen? Definitely, if your taste runs to the more clinical end of ‘80s pop. It’s got some gems, some dross, and some mediocrity. You could do worse.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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