Album Review: Phantogram’s latest is masterful
Ten songs but only 36 minutes long, Phantogram’s Three is a punchy offering from the classic indie pop duo and continues to serve up more of Phantogram’s fusion between indie rock and electronica.
While the record doesn’t shake up their formula too much, the 10 songs it provides fit nicely with the rest of their discography. It isn’t amazing, but it’s certainly par for the course.
Although solid overall, there is quite a disparity between the best and worst songs on the album. The better ones more than pull their weight, but some of the slower, softer ones bog the album down and lose some of the energy.
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“Funeral Pyre” starts the album off on the right foot, with a mid-tempo dance groove and dark, dreamy synths coloring the soundscape. The next two songs, “Same Old Blues” and “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,”up the intensity and the tempo. This sequence of songs is a great start to Three, and it grabs the listener’s attention and makes them excited for what’s next. It’s a shame then, that Three starts off with its best three songs, and although Phantogram tries, they never quite reach the same level of excitement or interest that they build up early in the album.
Immediately following the first three tracks, the songs slow down and stay there for most of the album. Some people may really like this — Phantogram has plenty of fans, and they’re no strangers to the slow, textured and dreamy songs peppered throughout Phantogram’s discography. However, I’ve always been more into their upbeat work, and while the first three songs were very promising, the rest of the album didn’t live up to the hype those initial tracks had built.
That isn’t to say the slower songs are bad. Like I said, plenty of people are really into this. Phantogram is masterful when it comes to layering sounds over each other, whether it be spacy synths, off-kilter samples, drum breaks or guitar pieces.
Every sound on this record feels arranged in such a meticulous way, which is to be expected from Phantogram, but it’s impressive nonetheless. While I might be a Neanderthal who needs a strong backbeat to latch onto, there’s plenty here for the more attentive listener. Even the songs that are more ambient have a ton going on sonically, and listening to all the different parts is a rewarding experience.
Overall, this album is solid. How much you like it depends on how much you like Phantogram’s previous material. If you’re a big fan of them overall, you’ll probably be a big fan of Three, but if Phantogram isn’t really your thing, this album won’t change your mind.
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