Phantom Handshakes, No More Summer Songs (Z Tapes)
Phantom Handshakes are the New York-based duo of Federica Tassano (also of the band Sooner) and Matt Sklar. Their debut full-length, No More Summer Songs, was recently sent forth into the world, and it’s an exquisitely delivered set of jangled shoegaze and dream pop.
In what’s become, I imagine, a depressingly typical scenario in “these COVID times” [Bad Brains ensemble voice], the entire album – as was the case with last spring’s No Better Plan EP – was recorded by Tassano and Sklar separately, but it’s difficult to tell with the depth of musical understanding throughout. It’s a lovely album that – in the way of many of the best albums of the genres from which it is sourced – can burnish, elevate and/or validate a mood.
From the trepidatious opening chimes of ‘I Worried’, No More Summer Songs sets a melodic course through bands like The Sundays, Sarah Records artists like The Field Mice, The Radio Dept. and newer fellow travelers like Jeanines. Guitars jangle, basslines reverberate, while Tassano’s vocals convey a cathartic melancholy á la Harriet Wheeler with a hint of the scrape of Karin Dreijer. Lyrically, the album feels confessional – accepting and letting go of unhealthy thoughts/people – while also touching on societal angst and the feel of the world falling into the proverbial handbasket bound for something other than glory. It’s a forehead pressed to a rain-streaked window, silently contemplating and questioning.
While the album title could be a bit of cheek – given the chosen oeuvre’s predilection for slickers over sundresses – I can’t help but feel that it fits just as well for those desirous of bright sun, white sands and bejeweled waves as for those who enjoy (prefer?) a foggy embrace, sea spray kisses and a bit of a rocky vista.
No More Summer Songs is out now, courtesy of Z Tapes, with a portion of online proceeds donated by Phantom Handshakes to The Trevor Project.
Highlights include: ‘Skin’; ‘A Secret Life’; ‘This Shade’; ‘How to Stay Awake’.