An Enjoyable Ride After Fall(ing) In Love: Phantogram’s Voices


By Charissa Lock 

The ways in which a song becomes a running record of background music, repeating the most lavishly catchy bits and pieces to circumvent your senses.  You become transfixed in the grungy beat and unique vocal melody so that even though this was all dismissed in the first or second listen, you cannot break away from it now.  Phantogram’s “Fall in Love” made its sinister move on my frontal lobe this past week.

The handful of times I had previously heard this track I must share my aggravation, er…rather spoken out “I hate when they do this!”… “Oh, you’re really not going to make that beat ever become the focus of the song?”… “Gahhh!”  Here’s what my problem was; there is such a feverishly chilling beat that should, in my opinion, become the prime focus at some point throughout the three minute, forty three second song (preferably an increase at the height of every verse before the transition into the chorus).  The fact that it just always remains a background beat slices right through my soul.  Yet, the vocal melody in the chorus, which has grappled the idea of expected and freshly coated it with different, is to die for.  Can you not envision everyone at every Phantogram show completely and boldly butchering the chorus?  Catchy choruses with unique little melodies are both adored and created by specific voices for best listening.

Now that I’ve relieved myself of a perfect world wish, I can provide the consequences of having “Fall in Love” hamsterwheeling in my brain.  I decided to see what else would entail in their February 18th release of VoicesThis result was unexpected, for I was intrigued with most tracks, slowly sinking down the Phantogram rabbit hole.  A lot of this has to do with Sarah Barthel’s vocals.   I’m hooked hard into her thick and sensually raw voice that carries across songs in whichever way her emotion travels.  It’s not necessarily that she has the universe’s most phenomenal voice, rather it’s her rawness and deepness that subtly pulls your giddy self in.

There are also some fantastic beats on this album, crediting the production value as well.  The idea of this sort of album being selected for remixes is exciting if realistic, there are just so many avenues for interpretation.  Sadly, some of this has to do with that previously mentioned pet peeve of them not turning up the potential for powerful moments.   Consequently it ends up detracting the greatness this album could have if such factors were in place, never reaching the CHVRCHES pedestal or TNAF.  Still, with what the audience is given, you receive an album that is compiled of crisp and dark electro-pop tunes, wedged in nicely to your late night soundtrack.  I prefer this album as a whole, even with the flashy single, as it works seamlessly together creating distinct feelings as you’re traveling through.  Tracks like “Howling At The Moon” and “Celebrating Nothing” are unforgettable highlights with Josh Carter’s lead in “Never Going Home” sailing along quite nicely within Voices.

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