04.13.2012

NEW MUSIC: Phantogram – Nightlife


Phantogram – Don’t Move

One of WOBC’s recent acquisitions, Nightlife is an eclectic addition that rubs up against the vault on all sides.  The Saratoga Springs Duo is Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, two high school friends with their hearts set on platonic bandmateship.  Their main inspiration is the optical illusion from which they are named.  They were those kids with anachronistic upbringings who grew up listening to Cocteau Twins, J Dilla, and David Bowie.  And Nightlife certainly illuminates this time-twisted coming-of-age.  Off of Barsuk Records, the EP features Sarah on keyboards, Josh on guitar, vocals from both, and a lot of production-level drum-kitty sirens and wisps.  Twenty-seven minutes in heaven, for sure, this release feels like it’s ‘just a tasting’.

Let’s do a little run-through, shall we?  ’16 Years’, kicks it off, quite a teenage outcry.  Kindof like the ‘It’s my birthday and I’ve been socialized into thinking that I must partake in a performative existential reflection to build a narrative upon which I can grow, even though I’m still at the point where I want to be regarded as older rather than younger’.  Sarah is spot on here, definitely like a nice teenage car ride with the moon-roof down radio-flipping.  Definitely lots of feelings.  Next we have ‘Don’t Move’ the album’s successful single from last October.  Sarah’s soliloquy is over, Josh comes in, and they partake in a sort of dialogue.  There’s a nice clanking in the back over and over reflecting nicely off the otherwise rather alarming words.  “I’m not your drinking problem”, “I’m not your paranoia”, “I know that you’re still alive”, la la la, all the meaning is driven right out of these lyrics, its still head-boppy and the track you want to put on right when you come home.

Next comes “Turning Into Stone”, another all-star, building on more clanks and synthy drop-downs, Josh’s turn.  We get some powerful chilling harmonies, “it’s a new day, and I’ve got new ways, of turning into stone.”  A little more electro-inspired, track 3 still maintains the sort of somber tone within an upbeat sound.  Tracks 4-6 bring a few new bends in the roads; whispers, little scats, onomatopoeia, and a platter of emotional spectra.  It maintains that youthful urgency, and a perhaps naïve but relatable look toward the past, but the security of a future.  Some nice mix-ups, track 5, the title track, slows it down to for the acoustic guitar-fretting to play a big role and interact with some cloudy background.  It’s a nice moment of fulfillment, like the ones at the end of a night when you’re thoroughly exhausted and pleased, just genuflecting on hours of satisfying new adventures.  Overall, the album strings together a lot of different twists and perspectives of the events we call life into is a big giant sigh of  “These Are Days”.

-Jake Dancy

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