In Honor of Maverick Music Festival: I Give You… PHANTOGRAM

I’ve sat on this review for far too long.

Well, let’s be honest, not really… I’ve been freakin’ busy and when I had some time to myself, sitting down and collecting my thoughts around the lukewarm that is the new album “Voices” (released friggin’ 18 February 2014!)… I’ll be honest… my brain didn’t want to work that hard.

Now: I’m not forced to. I’m simply STOKED to be at Maverick Music Festival tomorrow night, basking in their glow! I DO love them. Plus, I’ve been listening to them all day, and the fact that I’m just NOW sitting down to write (at 10-something in the evening here in SA, TX) is simply laughable.
Go ahead. Laugh.

HERE WE GO! Track-by-track, you know the drill.

VOICES
18 February 2014

1. Nothing But Trouble – This track makes me excited for the whole album. It was the first released on their EP some months ago (along with the subsequent 3 songs), and it reminds me a lot of their early work while still showing growth as a duo. They’re quite well-known for sick bass and lofty vocals, and this track simply doesn’t disappoint.

2. Black Out Days – I get lost in this. I bumped this like crazy back in December (if I remember correctly, this album seemed to take FOREVER to drop) driving to and from school… if you don’t catch yourself screaming “STAYYYY AYAYAYAAAAA AWAYAYAYAAAAAA” at the top of your lungs whilst recalling your horrible ex and holding back tears (or completely enraged), you are not human. Period.

3. Fall In Love – Easily and indisputably my favorite track on this entire album. Mirrors my feelings about a relationship-that-could-have-been or two, and let’s face it, don’t we all relate when it comes to the complexities of love? The sentiments may not rival Adele’s cutting lyricism, but not every artist can be Adele. And this is cooler, anyway.

4. Never Going Home – Biggest departure I’d heard to date from these guys, stylistically. I literally had to do a double-take upon first listen when I downloaded the EP. Actually ticked me off. Now I’ve gotten more used to it, but if you aren’t prepared, you may have the same reaction. SO YOU’RE WELCOME FOR THE WARNING. 😉

5. The Day You Died – Not a bad track! This one is circulating on the SiriusXMU waves these days. Another example of how Phantogram’s sound is evolving. It’s subtle, but noticeable. Not bad, just different.

6. Howling at the Moon – This is a miss. You know, I see what they were going for. I like the halted-vocals in I guess what could be considered the second verse… but I honestly preferred their mastery when they were mixing their own tracks. This is the first time they’ve released under a label, and they must have been misdirected on this. Better left off the album.

7. Bad Dreams – Great loop at the beginning. Verse melody very similar to The Day You Died, please tell me I’m not the only one who noticed this. ESPECIALLY since it was only 2 songs ago. Noticeable, poor attention to detail, JOHN HILL – Producer! That chorus, though. I’m a fan of being able to get a little stupid on a sample. I can do that to this, PLUS the beat has interest. Overall, I approve.

8. Bill Murray – The name alone piqued my interest. If you don’t like Bill Murray (the actor, duh) YOU SUCK and are scum, and I hate you. (So maybe not, but you still obviously have crap taste, and I’m surprised you found my blog. IJS!) THIS TRACK, THO: Eh. Doesn’t do the monniker justice. Phantogram, please take note — your strong suit is not really your artistic lyricism. We listen because you have some notable lines mixed with style. Stick to that equation. For Bill’s sake.

9. I Don’t Blame You – I have a short attention span, y’all. Producers need to remember people like me. Because a track like this, after having been snoozed to death by Bill Murray, will seriously cause me to click “next”. Which I nearly did. It’s not bad, but it’s not what I wanna hear at this point in the album. Maybe further up, after Black Out Days? Placement, and you’ve read me stating this often, IS EVER-SO-IMPORTANT. (JOHN HILL, I’M TALKING TO YOU!!!!!!)

10. Celebrating Nothing – This has also been heard on SiriusXMU! YES! What I want from my Phantogram, right here! Simple thoughts, highly stylized. THIS is the winning shizz, y’all. A breath of fresh air after a couple crap tracks. Like.

11. My Only Friend – How many times do I need to harp on finishing strong, Producers, HMMMM?! Stop putting me to sleep at the end of your goshdamn albums! Think about how you like a movie to end. Do you want to MAYBE be stoked for a sequel? Do you want to MAYBE be left guessing? Do you want to MAYBE be wanting more?! YEAH! SAME APPLIES TO ALBUMS, JERKS!

FINAL THOUGHTS: For such an amazing duo, this album is largely a disappointment. Truly, the EP had me decently excited! But getting into the meat-and-potatoes, these guys played their best hand FAR too early. I mean, did we really NEED to be waiting for 5-freaking-months just to get something that truly lacked substance such as this? When I learned that John Hill produced this (yes, he’s definitely on my crap list) for Republic/Universal, I wasn’t surprised… he’s the genius that allowed M.I.A. to release a 15-song long album (which I’ve reviewed here) that was seriously like 5 songs too long. (Still awesome, though… M.I.A. overrode his lack of an ear!) Big labels oftentimes means some stifling. Here’s hoping the act can learn from this first release under them and get back to the basics. ♦♦¼/5

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One comment on “In Honor of Maverick Music Festival: I Give You… PHANTOGRAM”

  1. […] Phantogram – Voices I gave this album a pretty scathing review back in March, with a rating of BARELY ♦♦¼/5. However, what can I say? It grew on me like […]


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