Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Phantogram finally sound like they're having fun on Three

"Three"

Release date: 07 October 2016
7/10
Phantogram Three
30 September 2016, 14:30 Written by Grant Rindner
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After a yeoman-like collaborative EP with Big Boi, Phantogram discover their joie de vivre on Three, an album more unhinged and emotionally graspable than their previous work.

The New York duo’s sound has always been a pastiche, blending scraps of trip-hop, synth-pop, indie rock and downtempo electronic, and here they build some truly mesmerizing records by allowing these components to exist separately within the same track.

On single “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” the verses and hook are bombastic, with propulsive snares and a melody so fuzzed-out it’s hard to tell if it comes from a guitar or a keyboard. The pre-hook is icy coo thoughl, as Sarah Barthel stretches into her falsetto and the whole affair mellows elegantly.

A similar effect is achieved on “Same Old Blues”, where the haunting introspection of the bridge is bulldozed through by the primary hook melody. The impact is felt in the lyrics, where Barthel’s delivery and content shifts sharply once the handclap drums return (“I keep on having this dream where I’m stuck in a hole and I can’t get out / There’s always something that’s pulling me down”, she admits, before shrugging the feeling away. “And this is nothing new / It’s just the same old blues”).

While both talented, Barthel is decidedly the more captivating vocalist, so the inclusion of veritable Josh Carter solo cut “Barking Dog”, which sounds like a Postal Service reference track, is questionable at best. The pair find their groove trading bars on the glitch-laden “You’re Mine”, a thriller built around a meticulously chopped and distorted vocal sample.

Phantogram have always been able to craft sleek, cerebral tunes, but it hasn't always been clear that they were having a blast doing it - until now.

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