When Phantogram‘s debut album, Eyelid Movies, was released in 2009, it seemed as though alternative radio stations had their mouths full with the band’s anthemic “Mouthful of Diamonds.” The band’s self-described “street beat, psych-pop” sound was one of those radio favorites that you could groove along to on your iPod while on the treadmill or elliptical, blissfully tuning out the world one track at a time. On Phantogram’s sophomore effort, Voices, people may find themselves returning to those treadmills and ellipticals for the very same reason–to enjoy an inspiring album that is filled with raucous, joyous and assuredly-focused songs.
Hailing from from Greenwich, New York, Phantogram consists of Josh Carter (vocals/guitar) and Sarah Barthel (vocals/keyboards). With rhythms, guitars, keyboards and spacey vocals that have an echoed quality, to say that the band has been hard at work since their last album would be an understatement. Not only was the duo busy recording their latest tracks in a remote upstate New York barn, but they were also in the midst of a jam-packed touring schedule, collaborating with the likes of Beach House, Minus the Bear, Yeasayer, Ra Ra Riot, Big Boi and The Flaming Lips.
On Voices, it’s clear that the band continues its quest to fire on all cylinders. The album opens with “Nothing But Trouble,” a thriving push of melody and Depeche Mode-like rhythms. “The Day You Died” has–what is that? Clave? – with a guitar that pushes the song through with Barthel’s insistent voice, “Tell me the truth/I know that you’re leavin’.” “Bill Murray” is a laid back Spartan tune that would seem appropriate for one of the more tender scenes in “Lost in Translation,” a little breath of fresh air amidst the swirl of the rich Portishead-ian atmosphere of synths, beats and supple voice.
For those that rocked out to Eyelid Movies, fear not. You’ll be able to rock out to Voices as well. When you’re on the treadmill, your heartbeat will still beat at a pretty good clip. You can take a breath every so often, but don’t think the album lets you rest. Voices is a relentless soundscape of thriving songs done by a thriving band.