Phantom Atlantic create cinematic alt rock for seekers. Since arriving on the scene in 2017, the Toronto outfit have crafted an atmospheric sound of intensity and pressure, welding Radiohead eccentricity to a Foo Fighters arena-rock frame of airtight guitar punch and chest-rattling rhythm. Your View of a Former Me, the band’s new EP, applies that schematic to a narrative cycle of looking inward for a way out. It’s a sharp, precise, and volatile five-track collection that ends in step with its beginnings: understanding and accepting the futility of stasis, and the inevitability of perpetual change. These two truths are earned over the course of Your View of a Former Me, a project and a title that chart a crooked path towards repair and salvation that never quite ends.
The four members of Phantom Atlantic—Kyle Brunet (vocals/guitar), Ryan Stam (guitar/keys/backing vocals), Jeff Burling (bass), and Ken Grisé (drums/backing vocals)—created the EP with co-writer and producer Steve Molella of Canadian rock group Finger Eleven, who approached the band to work together after seeing one of their dynamic, tenacious live performances.
With Molella, the band coaxed out a more authentic, truthful version of their songwriting. Written front-to-back over an extended period of artistic and personal self-interrogation, Your View of a Former Me emerged as an inadvertent concept record that grapples with the cracks in (if not inherent to) the facades all around us—and within us.
Stam positions the reflective outlook the band embraced during this time as “realistic optimism,” a designation that Brunet agrees with. “There’s constant conflict and contradiction in everything so the idea that anyone can ever achieve perfection is bullshit,” explains Brunet. “There can always be a better self, perhaps, and a more keen and wise understanding of yourself and others, but no one’s ever perfect in the end."
The EP barrels forth from the pounding-steam-engine guitar grit of opener “No Way To Live” to the slow-burn howl of “Start From Nothing,” with Brunet turning inward to dismantle his own toxicity. “I’ll wear you down until we start from nothing,” he belts, his voice approximating an arena-sized, grunge-rock Thom Yorke.
Instrumental “Chrysalis (Interlude)” starts in the wreckage of the previous track, bisecting the record and pivoting to a second act that looks upward to an ideal version of the self in “Man Like You” before crashing into the turmoil and fragile hope of closer “Heart Out Of Heaven,” an exorcism in song over a wash of synth and guitar as Brunet pleads for a clean slate: “Drain out all my reasons/Purify/Keep me close by your side/And open up my eyes.”
The EP ends as it began, with a choir of breathy harmonies that leave unclear whether you’re at the edge or in the eye of the storm. Phantom Atlantic know that this isn’t really the end, because there’s never one true finish line. There are only different versions of the self to balance. Like Einstein said, “The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”