By RUSSELL BAILLIE



(Herald rating: * * * * )



Playing here the other week on the promotional trail, live, Californian quintet Phantom Planet exhibited equal mounts of powerpop passion and nerd-cool. (And drummer and Rushmore star Jason Schwartzman showed if Mike Meyers proves too old, he's a shoe-in for The Keith Moon Story).



They're a lot louder on stage than they appear on this debut album produced by Mitchell Froom (Crowded House, Elvis Costello), which has already generated the hit single California.

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If that indelible tune and tracks like in Our Darkest Hour suggests Weezer without the anxiety attacks, the balance of this shows them doing hearty in lines in hooky country-rock (Always on my Mind), wistful Beatle-folk (Lonely Day, One Ray of Sun) and early Costello-rock (Nobody's Fault).



And finale Wishing Well makes a valiantly goofy attempt to invoke the spirit of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. No, they do lack for originality but that's more than compensated by their sheer pop-rock vitality.



Label: Sony