Phantastic Ferniture - Phantastic Ferniture
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, singer-songwriter Julia Jacklin’s music has always been introspective, speaking with great intimacy and conviction. The singer wasn’t nearly as complementary to her approach, coining it as “sad music with a guitar.” That’s why it is so immediately apparent that her side-project, Phantastic Ferniture, acts as a cathartic release, in which the enthusiasm and sheer enjoyment that she and fellow band members Elizabeth Hughes and Ryan Brennan play with, is almost palpable at times.
The self-titled debut from the trio begins with a swirling, psychedelic riff on “Uncomfortable Teenager,” a track that plays it a little bit safe, but is brimming with energy. “Bad Timing” has a distinct country twang to it, as Jacklyn’s voice warbles over the top of a luscious yet simple drum beat. The track aptly demonstrates Phantastic Ferniture’s ability to construct such simple chords and beats that aid Jacklyn’s vocals.
Lead single “Fuckin ‘n’ Rollin” creates an airy atmosphere through its warm guitars and a bassline that sinks its teeth in and refuses to let go. The sheer enjoyment that the three band members play with on this track is immediately apparent and one can’t help get swept up by it.
“Gap Year” adopts a more subtle approach that features Jacklin’s trademark “sadness,” as the lyrics are tinged in darkness, lust, and hopelessness. The difference between this and her solo work lies in the way these themes delivered, as “Gap Year” is played under a façade of positivity that builds throughout before its eventual chaotic climax that perfectly segues into the slow-burner “Take it Off," a track that features a rollicking, bass-driven riff as Jacklin croons over the top to great effect.
There are certainly flaws on Phantastic Ferniture’s self-titled debut – with the main one being its lack of variation. “Parks” seems like the most obvious example of this, sounding like a B-side rendition of “Take it Off.” The song feels void of the charisma and swagger that its predecessor possessed. This is rectified on “I Need It,” a brooding alt-country track that features an ambling riff that is perfectly contrasted by a drum beat that belies the dark tone that the rest of the instruments and Jacklin’s vocals establish.
“Dark Corner Dance Floor” is a psych-infused, toe-tapping affair that establishes its own little niche on the album, acting as an amalgamation of the previous tracks as it soars and crashes throughout. The languid guitar that begins proceedings on closing track “Mumma y Papa” is soon accompanied by a simple yet effective drum beat and Jacklin’s commanding vocals. The song reaches an absorbing crescendo before eventually bowing out, acting as an excellent ode to the infectious and frenetic energy that permeates throughout the entire album.
If Jacklin’s solo work is considered sad, then Phantastic Ferniture’s debut is certainly the antithesis of that, as it is just three musicians having a good time and listeners will find it difficult not to get swept up in this newfound exuberance.