by: Alden I. Bula
Album Review: Voices
Artist – Phantogram
Genre – Electronica / Pop
Looking at the album cover, you can presume without listening first that this just another male-female tandem in the league of Roxette, Book Of Love, and Boy Meets Girl; pure pop indulgence. Then, you listen to the first song of this album and you hear a guitar screaming introducing the song. Your assumption suddenly becomes all wrong and changes your impression that this is not your usual male-female rock or pop tandem. “Nothing But Trouble” might be misconstrued as one of the rejects from any “Evanessence “ album. With this song, you are prepared to brace yourself for a band that will tackle goth-rock again.
However, “Black Out Days” do not confirm the insinuation as this one is more of ambient in mood and probably could fill in any anthology on this genre. “Fall in Love” does not contradict the musical tone “Black Out Days” is heading for. But, “Fall In Love” can be mistaken also as pure pop along the likes churned out by Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, and Ellie Goulding. “Never Going Home” feels like a soundtrack from an adventure movie. Pure synthesizer intro laden with guitar plucking and with hoarse vocals from the male lead vocal, the listening experience recalls “The Dream Academy’s” “Life In A Northern Town.”
In the “The Day You Died”, you might think that this one is a filler song due to its generic guitar intro. However, if you are creative enough, you can deduce that the song itself and the guitar riff may have been inspired from popular 60’s pop ditties. At this point of the “Voices” album, you feel that this band has its beginnings from “Siouxsie and The Banshee.” With “Howling At The Moon,” this electronic duo band from New York City performed what they do best; electronic rock. It is a pure bliss indeed. Now, here comes “Bad Dream,” what seems to be a song with good intro, turned out to be a mess. The tune does not have a change in hooks thus it sounds too boring until the end of the song.
“Bill Murra” might be an ode from this band to this great comedian in his old age. Loaded with whisper and electro synths, you can imagine how Bill Murray will react with his eyebrows. You can even picture out Mr. Murray dragging his feet while listening to this music. This is how good this song is. “I Don’t Blame You” has certain piano refrain similar to “Imagine’ by John Lennon. But, the song feels like the usual 80’s pop that you heard already in most contemporary bands. And, there is a little bit of country and electro mash up in “Celebrate Nothing.” The album ends with the song “My Only Friend.” What a way to end reminding people that one has to sleep and get unconscious. This is a goodbye song probably dedicated to a friend.
The record might end up on a slow note, however, the rest of the songs are only little bit faster in terms of pace. No danceable tune that has become quite mandatory for electronic bands like Phantogram. This goes to show that this band will not compromise creativity with commercialism. I rate this album 4 stars out of 5 stars. At best, you have to listen this at near midnight to really feel the whole record.