Phantods had nearly wrapped up their second full-length album when inspiration struck.
"We were really happy with all these songs," singer Gretchen King said, "but we felt like we didn't have the one that was kind of the glue of the album."
So they went back to the well and pulled up "Creature," a propulsive and pulverizing pop song that crystallizes the transformation this band has undergone in the past two years. It quickly became the title track for the album.
They'll unveil "Creature" Saturday at Skully's, culminating a breakout year that saw them become one of the city's most in-demand acts.
Once a willfully weird hard-rock combo that delighted in adding unexpected twists and turns to their exotic concoctions, Phantods took a different tack with last year's "Revival" EP. They began to value crisp songwriting more than seeing how many genres they could fit in one song.
That progression reaches its logical conclusion on "Creature." There are still elements of the band's former kooky funhouse feel, like the surf guitar that runs along the spine of "Just Like You" and the chugging thrash that powers "The Promising." King's lyrics still filter personal struggles and epiphanies through the lens of zombies ("Raise the Dead") and werewolves ("Under the Moon").
But now these elements are filtered into short, tightly constructed blasts. King bathed her vocals in layers of background tracks, creating harmonized hooks that are the beating heart of these tracks.
The vision comes together swimmingly on "Creature," a tune that functions as a buffet platter of the band's strengths and still clocks in under three minutes. It's proof that going pop doesn't have to mean going soft.
"The whole album is our transition into where we're headed," King said, "so it's as though we've kind of made our own creature."