‘Voices’ is New York duo Phantogram’s second album, released on Febraury 18th, and is the follow up to 2010’s highly polished debut, ‘Eyelid Movies’. It’s not that ‘Voices’ is a bad album, it does have its high points in tracks like Fall in Love and Black Out Days. What it fails to do is deliver a lasting impression, and this is ultimately its downfall.
‘Voices’ is a very professional sounding album that was excellently produced, it just lacks any tracks that are more than just average. It lacks the bite that is so important with synthesized music, and the result is ultimately just a defanged effort.
Opening track Nothing But Trouble is a track that relies on bass synth, reverberated guitars and Sarah Barthel’s haunting vocals to craft a beautiful blend of synth pop and electronics. While Barthel sings for the majority of the album, the other half of Phantogram, Josh Carter, contributes vocals on a few tracks, most notably on Never Going Home. Unfortunately, it feels like Carter’s vocals are really just there for the sake of being there, only serving to contrast to Barthel’s gliding vocals that are still heard throughout the song.
Fall in Love, which was released as a single, is a dark, R&B-esque song that is certainly one of the stand out tracks on the album. From start to finish, it is an encapsulating track that showcases Barthel’s vocal range, and the amount of sounds that the band can create together using their array of instruments.
Although Phantogram are much better than most in the synth pop genre, they lack the variation and uniqueness that bands like HAIM are excelling at providing. ‘Voices’ is ultimately an album that will sit in the background, providing a beautiful ambience, but it’s hard to listen to the album and not feel like Phantogram are lacking in something to make them really stand out from the crowd.