Phantogram has steadily been clawing their way into the mainstream spotlight. They’ve come a long way from their indie beginnings and have grabbed a lot of notoriety from their numerous collaborations with artists like Miley Cyrus, Skrillex, and Big Boi (of Outkast). Even doing a full EP with Big Boi, which quickly became one of my favorite projects at the time. They continue to step further into the spotlight with the release of their latest album, Three.
The thing that immediately drew me to Phantogram in the first place was their production. It’s just so different than almost anything else out there. It’s the thing that excites me most about music, hearing something I haven’t heard or experienced before. The way they manage to combine elements from different genres and form a cohesive whole is amazing. “Cruel World” starts out with a simple piano loop and basic kicks then fully explodes into an almost dubstep like riff in the chorus. “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” is high-energy, with rattling bass and layer upon layer of synths. Then there’s “Answer”, a slow tempo song full of piano keys, intermittent scratches, and subtle kicks, that expands into a full on guitar riff in the chorus. The diversity in their production is exceptional, and while things don’t always mesh perfectly (“Run Run Blood”, “Calling All”), the high points on Three far outweigh the few missteps taken.
“Woke up stoned in the backseat
From a dream where my teeth fell out of my head
Cut it up, cut it up, yeah
Everybody’s on something here”
The vocals on Three are also quite good when left up to Sarah’s powerful, piercing voice that manages to have an airy quality about it. It’s a perfect contrast to the production. The songs suffer a little however when Josh jumps on the tracks to lend his vocals. They just can’t stand up to Sarah’s vocals and he’d be better left behind the boards handling the production.
“Empty, heavy eyes
Drift away to my heaven
Whatever waits inside
I’m just a ghost you think you know
Was there something that you wanted to say?”