Phantogram: Three (Republic) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #58 - The Protest Issue



Sep 14, 2016 Phantogram Bookmark and Share

A few minutes into the latest Phantogram record and you would be forgiven for expecting nothing more than a collection of mundane dark electronica. The lead single, “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” is decent enough, even if it comes off a little too eager. It will make a great addition to summer indie playlists, channeling strobe-light passion with a Dandy Warhols flare. But it hardly does the rest of this album justice.

Thank god Phantogram are dedicated to something more than catchy singles. The duo, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, established a trend on their previous records of sharpening their music with pristine production and multi-layered instrumentation. Hear the way this record drops into the staccato strings of “Barking Dog,” echoing the despair of rock-bottom in the lyrics. Carter’s vocals really shine on this track, something overlooked in the other noise-drenched club material. Similarly, the tape-deck vibe of “Answer” seems to predict its inevitable place on mixtapes (or Spotify playlists, as the case may be) as a sentimental core, a ballad destined for late night sharing over shitty laptop speakers. Both of these songs represent the careful complexity of Phantogram’s approach, a depth of rich songwriting prowess masked behind a flash-in-the-pan style. The album’s apex, “Destroyer,” is a moving performance from Barthel, against a swelling arrangement.

The unexpected disparity among these tracks makes Three an edgy, but earnest, collection of pulsing indie tropes. But this round, each explosive beat-driven pop song is contrasted by a stellar deep cut, like a pendulum swing of moods in a pitch of fevered energy. There are just piles of good ideas plastered throughout. It moves gracefully from scorn-fueled breakup music to angsty and lustful power-pop, both darkly raw and high-class glam, making this an album worthy of a deeper emotional investment. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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