REVIEW: Phantogram’s ‘Nightlife’ inconsistent
Phantogram’s new EP, “Nightlife,” stays true to the duo’s innate ability to intricately interlace many layers but is a bit all over the place.
New Yorkers Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel make up the electronic pop duo that released “Eyelid Movies,” their first full length, last year.
The six-song EP stays true to its title as many songs are dreamy with heavy echo and synths that paint a picture of driving in big cities, swanky New York clubs and the intimate moments at the end of the night.
However, the album is definitely confusing.
The first two songs, “16 Years” and “Don’t Move” are startling. They are super upbeat and “16 Years” doesn’t ease the listener into the album or feel like an intro tune. Though perhaps a bit misplaced, it’s still a good song and Barthel’s vocals are her own.
“Don’t Move” is fun electro with dizzying panning and many unique layers that are different than the norm, but actually come together harmoniously.
The album heads in a new direction in the third song, “Turning into Stone,” as a fuzzed-out bass accompanies Carter’s emotional, extremely handsome vocals. Its alarming, yet slow, intriguing vibe can be attributed to the overwhelming number of different elements mixing at the same time.
“Make a Fist” is the coolest tune on the album. It’s sexy, cool and wispy, and incorporates whispering layers of Barthel’s voice, along with her beautiful and breathy melodies.
Attention-grabbing builds and repetitions become darker, grittier and passionate — it is definitely an end-of-the-night song.
The rest of the album is composed of tunes that shift between being melancholic or fuzzy and dark. “Nightlife” is a little less electronically manipulated than the duo’s debut effort, which sounds nice here.
“Nightlife” is good for an EP, which is usually a collection of a group’s works-in-progress and latest ideas, but it lacks a strong connecting thread.
At any rate, their next LP has to be more cohesive than this EP which never really found itself.