(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.


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