Phantogram have released their third artist album, aptly titled Three. Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel had a lot riding on this LP following their 2014 album Voices and then their uneven collaborative album with Big Boi, Big Grams. They managed to brush all of that aside and deliver their strongest work to date.
They come right out of the gates with "Funeral Pyre" with its brooding bass lines and searing guitar solos that soar alongside Bathel's voice.
The top half of the album features the strong, upbeat singles like "Same Old Blues" and instant classic "You Don't Get High Anymore." There has always been a hip-hop flavor in their music, which is why the Big Boi collaboration wasn't that farfetched and "Same Old Blues" carries on that traditional. Barthels also adds a bluesy flavor to the song with her voice.
Though the album is only 10 songs long, it can feel a little drawn out with the stretch of mid-tempo songs towards the end. They add to the overall theme and show a definite upgrade in songwriting from past LPs, but they seem the most assured on the more uptempo singles towards the top of the LP.
There is a dark brooding overtone to the entire album. Barthel's older sister committed suicide early this year and that hanged over their studio sessions. That dark cloud can be heard in songs like "Cruel World" that mix the hurt of heartbreak and loss. The punk-rock influenced "Run Run Blood" also dives into that pain.
Phantogram are heading out on tour this fall across North America in support of the album. They kicked off the tour in Portland last night and will perform almost every night over the next month across North America. Then they hit Europe and spend the New Year in Australia.
Stream Three below and pick up a copy here.