The Austin Chronicle

SXSW 2014 Records

Reviewed by Abby Johnston, March 14, 2014, Music


Voices (Barsuk)

Phantogram's 2010 debut Eyelid Movies wasn't an album to sing along to. After maybe hundreds of listens to arresting standout "When I'm Small," yours truly still can't tell you what Sarah Barthel is crooning through the sexy production swirl. Never did it occur to me that it might be important. The New York duo's second LP, Voices, corrects that small oversight. As suggested by the title, Barthel and Josh Carter stretch their roles as vocalists without sacrificing the dance-floor noir that made their career. Phantogram plays its pair of aces, "Black Out Days" and "Fall in Love," back-to-back and only four minutes into the album. The song pair is a bricolage of 2013's best electronic pop ideas, as if Phantogram has been taking careful notes on Chvrches and Sky Ferreira. And this time, Barthel isn't drowning in the production flood. "Bill Murray" and "Never Going Home" truly drop the screen for the vocalists, both as sparse as Phantogram will venture, and still entrancing.


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