The Phantom Tollbooth
Better Days EP
Artist: Taste
Label: Indie
Length: 5 tracks/20.32 minutes

Their first show was, as Taste are fond of reminding us in publicity material, recorded for Britain's fifth TV channel. The band showed some promise on that night, and their sound has filled out considerably since then. The title track of this EP introduces the listener to a rock sound which shows strong influences from early to mid-period U2 and the more recent brit-pop movement.

Dan Welberry's voice is best described as "earnest," often mixing a sense of urgency with passion. His range doesn't appear to be huge but is certainly adequate for this material. Welberry and Rich Bull share guitar duties and manage to hook together some interesting riffs. Iain Armstrong's drums and Nath Collins's bass are most evident on the title track, and could occasionally do with being a little more prominent, but are solid in their backing of the guitars and vocals.

Lyrically the songs vary but are united by the theme of hope found in Christ. Track two, "The Secret Place" makes this very obvious when Welberry sings:

The lyrics could do with a few more obvious hooks and a slightly stronger vocal mix, but a good foundation has been laid.

The EP is filled out with a remix of the title track, titled "the psalmist vs. paul burton remix." Paul Burton is guitarist with Blueberry and sound man with delirious?, and the two remixers have pulled in some synths and crashing drum sounds to produce an interesting, layered contrast to the preceding laid back and brooding tracks.

Remix aside, there is a need for more diversity in the sound before the band will be ready for a full length recording, but this EP is a good calling card for an ambitious band.

James Stewart (3/21/99)