Music Review: Phantogram reaches next level on 'Voices'

MATT MOORE Associated Press Published:

Phantogram, "Voices" (Republic Records)

The so-called "sophomore slump" is something most artists aim to avoid but somehow manage to hit with precision.

Not so with Phantogram. The New York-based duo, whose songs blend deep and defined throbbing foundations with swirling but dirgelike grooves that float and careen around in a whirl of melody, has safely hopped over that trap with "Voices," its new 11-track album. It's the follow-up to the electronic rock act's 2009 debut, "Eyelid Movies," and the new album comes after Phantogram's well-received collaborations with Big Boi of Outkast.

There's no slumping on "Voices" to be found anywhere except for the heavy-handed lyrics and layer upon layer of heavy tones that wrap listeners in a mummy's bandages of longing and regret as is experienced on "Never Going Home."

But it's not all melancholy. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have found an equilibrium that pulls the very best of each other's talents to the forefront and blends it for songs that have a stunning heft.

This isn't music for jubilant parties. This is music for listening, parsing for meaning, for introspection and for making bold declarations that, as the song "Howling at the Moon" proclaims: "Let the shooting stars, let the crashing cars, let the future pass, wasn't made to last."

Phantogram has crafted an epochal album, a generational capstone that will reside in the playlists for a generation to come and returned to in times of heady joy and nostalgic reminiscence, too.

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