Phantogram “voices” its return

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With meshed layers of resonating synths and sensual vocals, the music of New-York based electronic band Phantogram crafts a multidimensional ambience that truly reflects its name, defined as two-dimensional images that appear three-dimensional. Its latest album, Voices, is no exception.

 Released on Feb. 18, Voices shatters any doubts the public may have had for the sophomore album after Phantogram’s successful 2009 debut album Eyelid Movies, proving that it was worth the five-year wait. The highly anticipated album featuring 11 tracks shows the progression of the band as the sound delves into darker tones.

Album opener “Nothing But Trouble” starts off the album strong with a pulsing drumbeat, guitar riffs, and the ever so gentle yet hauntingly powerful vocals of singer Sarah Barthel.

Barthel continues to spearhead the album in the following tracks “Black Out Days” and “Fall in Love,” where her vocals are interlaced together in echoing layers. Voices’ most popular track to date, “Fall in Love,” is surprisingly not a love song as the name may suggest. Barthel boldly sings, “Love, it cut a hole into your eyes. You couldn’t see you were the car I crashed. Now you’re burning alive.” In addition to the evident synthpop the track also incorporates hints of hip-hop that drives the energy.

Phantogram’s other half, Josh Carter, showcases his vocals as well in “Never Going Home” and “I Don’t Blame You.” Though not as potent as Barthel, Carter delivers a poignant side of Phantogram. The only negative elements are the chorus lyrics of “Never Going Home: “If this is love, I’m never going home,” which sounds like something taken directly from a cheesy love song.

Another standout track of Voices is the slow and melancholic “Bill Murray.” The swirl of Barthel’s soulful voice, synths, and guitar line is absolute perfection. It’s music that you can lie down at night and listen to on loop for hours on end.

The last two songs “Celebrating Nothing” and “My Only Friend” further showcase the fresh, deep, and distinct sound Phantogram has come to embody, a perfect conclusion to a solid album.

Phantogram recently played at Fox Theater in Oakland on Feb. 20, a day after the release of Voices.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on Mar. 12, 2014.