Phantogram: Eyelid Movies

posted by dpm on 11/04/2010


Phantogram: Eyelid Movies
            Sophisticated and elegant like a Manhattan soiree, Phantogram has tacked scintillating, crushed velvet vocals and heavy-lidded atmospherica to a funky, top-down electro-groove framework, and in so doing they’ve braved new frontiers in the deepening audio pool. Somewhat absent of allies in Saratoga Springs, New York (save for fellow Skidmore college graduates, Ratatat), this quasi-hipster male/female “street beat” duo burst onto the scene a couple years back in a salient, cross-pollinated vessel built of rich musical cognizance and seemingly limitless possibilities. And through internet buzz and a substantial touring schedule over the past year, they’ve amassed a loyal lot of fan-tograms.              
All fluff aside, Eyelid Movies—from bookend to bookend—ecllipses much of what I’ve heard floating across from the airwaves as of late. What struck me more than anything about their debut release is the perfection among their dichotomous schema. The moody vocals of Sarah Barthel calcifies to a perfect bedrock beneath Josh Carter’s ubiquitous programming. For instance, the 1st track, “Mouthful of Diamonds”, cruises sedately along, piecing together a somewhat unconventional synth groove while Sarah Barthel’s voluptuous voice tantalizes the listening ear. “When I’m Small” is a ponderous ode to who-knows-what, and at 4-minutes, “Turn it Off” is a staggering example of how goddamn infectious trip-hop can be (Carter’s refrain—“I should’ve been easier on you...” fits seemlessly to the cool sibilations of the pressing hypnotic beat.) My personal favorite on Eyelid Movies is the anesthetic “Running from the Cops”, which, coincidently, reminds of Radiohead
What remains is no less filler than the strong beginning tracks. Noteworthies are the favorable back-to-back tracks of “As Far As I Can See”, and “You are the Ocean”. Each makes a strong case that Massive Attack isn’t the only band under the sun creating menacing and sinister electronica. 
Of course this disc comes rife with many similarities to the heaviest of heavyweights in the world of automated music, but Eyelid Movies is by no means just a lucky freshman riff-off. I see no sophmore jinx in their future. It’s a deluxe long play, and it is easy on the ears and can certainly add accent to most any day. Take a listen to these astral dreamers of the Northeast, amd see where they fit into your world.