Finding beauty in darkness, Phantogram’s new record is a deep reflection on heartbreak and loss.
Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have had a year of extreme ups and downs. Although the duo has already received considerable praise for Three—their newly released LP—in January Barthel’s older sister was lost to suicide. The 10 new songs that comprise Three were written in a six-month during the middle of this year and understandably dive lyrically into themes of grief and sadness. Still, a vibrant musical force that is anything but despondent backs these new songs. Just like Phantogram’s year—Three is an album of contrasts.
The LP opens with “Funeral Pyre”, a lush track with deep, pulsating bass, an airy guitar riff and breathy, high-reaching vocals. “Same Old Blues” is moody—traveling from the pounding rhythms of the verse to the sparse and delicate bridge. Lyrically “Same Old Blues” is particularly cutting as Barthel calls out, “Today I lost my future to the past.”
Mixing both male and female vocals, “Barking Dog”, “You’re Mine” and “Answer” drop highly evocative melodies, moving lyrics and music that carries you through a spectrum of emotions—from hope to lust to sorrow.
Showing us that Three isn’t all sorrow and bringing the record to a close on more of a party note, “Calling Ali” pulls out a classic trip-hop vibe and Barthel reminds us that “There’s a little bit of ho in all of us”.
According to the band, Three is about finding beauty in darkness. And that’s what they’ve have achieved. There’s beauty in all emotions and Phantogram have captured some of that here.