Album Review – No More Summer Songs by Phantom Handshakes (2021) (ZTapes)

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Slovakian cassette label, ZTapes, defied just about every Covid erected barrier in 2020 to have a year that most indie labels would only ever dream of. Releases from the likes of Orchard Mantis, Dead Katz, Beach Vacation and the previous Estranged EP by Phantom Handshakes themselves, frequented more than their fair share of ‘year-end list’ of the micro-blogs that ‘really’ matter.
If ZTapes have a general modus-operandi of jangly, dreamy, lo-fi melacolia, then the signature of this New York based duo of Federica Tassano and Matt Sklar will only serve to augment that reputation.
Initially, the best of the sound is a muscular dream-pop, with tracks such as This Shade, the superlative Cricket Songs, A Secret Life and All That Could Burn, building upon a core Ghost Mail style and imbuing it with a shimmering jangle that simultaneously hints at the slightest gaze propensities and a Brighter infused indie-pop.
The beauty does not stop at these track, but it does change direction as it sidles defiantly back to the 80s with No Better Plan revealing where the jangly Post-Punk of The Cure may have gone if they had been fronted by the sweetest of female vocals, whereas How To Stay Awake and Skin touch upon Cocteau Twins dream-pop, but never allow a ‘similar swirl’ to overpower the beauty.
With acts like Phantom Handshakes releasing such stunning beauty, Ztapes look set for another great year in 2021.
 

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