h

Phantogram : Three

6.5

Lurking somewhere in the shadowy, liminal space between Portishead and Chvrches are New York duo Phantogram, dipping deep in their own darkness while continuing to pump out pop you can really feel.
 
As soon as the glitchy synth bass of Funeral Pyre kicks in, vocalist Sarah Barthel stretches to the height of her range as she eulogises herself. Guitarist Josh Carter makes his presence similarly felt with the filthy guitar lick of Same Old Blues, salvaging the zeitgeist-baiting dub drop that precedes it.Though the production lacks the hip hop punch of Eyelid Movies, the album’s first half feels assured – never more so than in the fuzz-drenched single You Don’t Get Me High Anymore and the perfect Lee Moses sampling in the standout Cruel World.
 
Three is packed with dark, sexy electro and carried by Barthel’s R&B-inflected vocal style, but it loses its vitality after the halfway mark, with Carter’s leading tracks never quite inspiring the same gloomy gyrations. Closer Calling All is a straight-up tonal mismatch: an attempt to stage a wake to the album’s funeral pyre, but with the wrong DJ.Three delivers fuzzy satisfaction, but it still leaves you with the munchies.
 
By David Molloy