Words About Music
Can you believe it’s been four years since Phantogram last released an album? Me neither, and I can’t tell if it’s good or bad that I didn’t realize that. I mean, I do believe that Phantogram makes some pretty interesting music, but they’re just one of those bands that could break up and I don’t think it’d be too tragic for a whole lot of people. But hey, enough mocking Phantogram. Point is, they’re back with their second album “Voices.” They combine trip-hop, electronica, and psychedelic pop in very creative and dense ways that do make their music interesting in short bursts. I may not be their biggest fan, but I do see a lot in “Voices” that can be seen as good.
Many times a year, I come across an album that I listen to once and don’t feel compelled to listen to again. “Voices” was almost one of those albums. For some reason, something made me want to give it a few more shots, though, so I did. Maybe it was the intelligently crafted noisy production on songs like the opening “Nothing But Trouble.” Maybe it was the well-executed vocals and integration of recent pop trends. I mean you’ll hear a lot of modern influences on this thing. I hear a bit of Goat, a bit of Charli XCX, a bit of Purity Ring, and a bit of Clams Casino in a lot of these glitchy, howling, cloudy tracks. I mean, if this were an instrumental album I think I’d be totally okay with it because to me that’s the most interesting part of the whole thing.
Unfortunately, I don’t feel quite convinced by the lyrics and vocal performances. Sarah Barthel and Joshua Carter are both decent enough vocalists, but the way they go about singing and writing lyrics just doesn’t strike me as quite as distinctive as their actual music is. I really enjoy the way these guys use samples, synths, and sound in general. But when it comes to their attempts at making pop-friendly hooks or writing lyrics I’m just not very excited by what’s going on. I feel like the aforementioned Charli XCX and Purity Ring do this kind of thing with much more skill than Phantogram do it with, and for that reason I have a tough time remembering most of the tracks on here.
While I can’t say that there’s a specific song on here that I happen to despise with a passion, a good portion of the album goes by without really giving me anything that I feel the need to pay attention to. It seems pretty surface level to me. I could get the same experience putting it on in the background that I would if I paid all my attention to the music. There’s periods of genius on here with the dark dancey music, especially on songs like “Fall In Love,” but for the most part I don’t imagine I’ll have very high expectations next time Phantogram releases an album. I might not even review their next one.
SCORE – 5.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – Nothing But Trouble, Black Out Days, Fall In Love, Howling at the Moon, Bad Dreams, Bill Murray