Phantogram: Voices (Republic) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Feb 19, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Voices is Phantogram‘s full-length follow up to 2009’s Eyelid Movies (EPs have been released in the interim), and the Saratoga Springs duo stays true to its layered, beat-driven, ambient method. This time around, however, the songs are tighter, and with their signature multi-tracking and moody approach, the album benefits enormously from the added structure.

“Nothing But Trouble” is a dreamy and anxious point of entry to Voices. Sarah Barthel’s vocals spend plenty of time scratching at the upper register before sinking into the basement at the recitation of the song title in the chorus. Slight harmonic wanderings add weight to the song’s murkiness.

“Fall In Love,” which was released in December during the album’s rollout, is the strongest song on the record with its rhythmic playfulness and mirage of strings throughout. The low, rumbling, heavy beat running beneath the song hits a high point as it stumbles downward during the chorus.

“Black Out Days” made its first appearance on the duo’s self-titled EP released in Fall 2013 along with three other tracks also featured on Voices. Sampled vocals and layered vocals that seem sampled paint a primitive landscape.

A notable difference in this album is Josh Carter’s reduced role as lead. “Never Going Home” and “I Don’t Blame You” are the only tracks with Carter on vocals. The former has touches of chorused Phil Collins and the latter is swimming in a lo-fi whisper. Both are laid out over slow emotional and sonic builds, relying less on heavy beats. Both fantastic.

Phantogram shows a marked improvement in song conceptualization with Voices. Less fat goes a long way for the kind of weight this duo brings to each track. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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