“You’ve got a mouthful of diamonds and a pocket full of secrets” – Phantogram
Trust, doubt and regret seem to be central issues within the content of Eyelid Movies, the debut album from Phantogram. An electronic rock duo from Saratoga Springs, NY that are rapidly being recognized for their talent. A small town for big city inspired music from Sarah Barthel and long time friend, co- singer and guitarist, Josh Carter. The two present an attractive package that will be devoured and universally embraced by hipsters. Formed in 2007, they were originally called Charlie Everywhere until they signed to BBE in 2009 and became Phantogram. As their popularity grew with each captivating performance, Phantogram was offered the opportunity to sign with Barsuk records. The same label known for signing Death Cab for Cutie, Rilo Kiley, Aqueduct and Nada Surf. With additional exposure their fan base will undoubtedly grow, as their songs tend to embed their way into your memory the instant that you hear them.
Their sound is catchy, moody and bold, with dreamy synth beats and breathy vocals that will immerse you in a state of meditative pleasure. They’ve been labeled trip hop, electro-indie, electronic rock, and electro-pop but they describe their sound as “street beat, psych pop.” Self proclamations ring true when each song has the ability to transport you to another time and place. There is definitely a psychedelic, mellow feel as you listen and feel yourself drifting away with the music. It will take you to a world where love is carefully regarded with skepticism, doubt and more than a little cynicism. There is no way to avoid the undercurrents of loneliness and isolation in Phantogram’s tracks.
“I’d rather die than be with you” is a strong antithetical statement compared to the raw emotion and surrender many other Indie bands sing about. Not that Phantogram’s songs are only meant for the jaded, they just represent those experienced in damaging relationships. The ones who question what they feel before losing themselves completely and naively falling headfirst into love, without wondering who will catch them when they fall.
This album is self reflective on failed relationships expressing laments on Turn it off, such as “I could’ve been easier on you, I should’ve been easier on you.” Seems like the ultimate cliché when made in retrospect, but is still refreshing to hear being sung by a mournful Josh Carter. Somehow it manages to remain danceable without succumbing to sappiness. Running from the Cops is a fun track that starts off with a strong, heavy drum beat and a distorted voice throughout. All Dried up has a steady rising drumbeat that emphasizes the anxiety behind the words, “I can’t feel my love anymore.” A very affecting way of construing when you are stuck in a relationship that is long past due.
But sometimes you just can’t seem to let go even when it is self destructive to stay, because as Phantogram states, “You are the ocean and I’m good at drowning.” Frustration, addictions and vices are all discussed intelligently within the context of the album and accompanied by memorable beats, this alone makes Phantogram a band that will be repeatedly played on my Ipod.