Music Box: Phantogram, “Voices”

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]“Maturation” is a term too often thrown into the discussion of an artist’s development from album to album, often without merit.  However, the term is truly relevant when discussing the progress indie electronic duo Phantogram has made from its first release in 2009, “Eyelid Movies,” to its latest work, “Voices.”
Vocalist/keyboardist Sarah Barthel and guitarist Josh Carter have completed their evolution from unrefined freshmen to polished upperclassmen with their work on “Voices.”
“Change” is the name of the game here, as the duo has moved significantly away from the simplistic, airy ambience of “Eyelid Movies” in favor of a sharper, grittier mood.  “Voices” is a haunting romp through the minds of Barthel and Carter, chock-full of scintillatingly brooding synth and distorted guitar, overlaid with a healthy dash of Barthel’s signature breathy vocal styling and lyrical poignancy.
The album is blossoming with variety, each track its own unique entity, exhibiting a clear break from “Eyelid Movies,” which was essentially a collection of 11 songs that were all slight variations of the same recipe.  Phantogram’s latest release sways between upbeat voracity (“Fall in Love”) and laid-back tranquility (“Never Going Home”) keeping the listener’s attention throughout.
Liken “Voices” to the novel you can’t put down; Phantogram’s unpredictability forces you to keep turning the pages.
The genre-bending track “Bad Dreams” stood out among the rest to me.  With its pop sensibility and flighty vocal styling, it seems as if it would fit in just as well on Justin Timberlake’s “20/20 Experience” as it does on “Voices;” a nod to the band’s tighter sound and musical acumen.  But the song’s calling card comes in the form of its seamless combination of aspects of funk, electronica and pop, all while maintaining a sound sense of familiarity and coherence.
“Voices” proved to be as complete an indie album as I’ve heard since Iron & Wine’s 2013 release “Ghost on Ghost;” an exhibition in creative songwriting and sound production from beginning to end.  Put aside any reservations you may have after “Eyelid Movies” and delve into the work of art that is “Voices.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_facebook type=”standard”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_tweetmeme type=”horizontal”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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