After Jason Schwartzman left Phantom Planet to pursue acting I was sure he was gone from the music world forever; luckily I was wrong.
Four years after leaving Phantom Planet and a few slick indie films later, Jason’s back as an one-man band. When I first heard that everything on this his album Nighttiming was written, played and sung by him I thought it would be an ambitious project, but once again I am eating my own words. The first two songs are a bit bland but right away you are able to get a sense of where Schwartzman is trying to go with this album. It is very Beach Boys meets The Shins meets Modest Mouse (listen to “The World At Large”). While most albums go on the straight and narrow with either all indie-pop, all punk rock, or all surf pop, on this album there is a bit of EVERYTHING, including some good ‘ol fashioned disco, which is one of the reasons why I love it.
“Its Not You Its Me” is a great standout track that just captures your attention. It makes you think of summer from the very beginning and I had a sudden urge to join in the “hey na na na na na na na’s.” The guitar riff at 1:34 is a great touch to remind us that Schwartzman really is an outstanding musician. It doesn’t have the most complex set of lyrics but for those just searching for a catchy summer pop song this will quench that thirst. Schwartzman shows off some diversity with a raw, country-acoustic song called “Mama” which kind of sounds like it could be a nasal-ly Ben Kweller tune at first. However after listening to the track a few times, I found that it added a lot of character to the entire album. No matter how much you try to deny it the title track, “Nighttiming,” is definitely a disco song. I listened to it five times trying to determine whether or not Schwartzman made it a disco song on purpose or if it was just an accident to my ears but the chorus and intro confirmed the fact that this is definitely is. It was especially discerning when I closed my eyes and was able to picture a skate rink with a disco ball, swirly lights and John Travolta. “West Coast” (Phantom Planet’s “California” part deux perhaps?) turned out to be quite a delight on this record. It is light and fun with a hint of nostalgia wrapped up in melancholy. Much like the rest of the album, there is a secret in every song waiting to be discovered.
I have a feeling Jason Schwartzman is trying to tell us that he can do everything and that we will never be able to pin a single genre or career path to him. It is a great summer album in which you can almost imagine Max Fischer serenading you while listening.
Its Not You Its Me
The Old Machine
Back to You
— Mai Huynh