Album Review: Phantogram, Eyelid Movies

At first, I was upset to be arriving late to the second day of Lollapalooza in 2011. My attitude and mindset were altered instantly as we walked up into the crowd where Phantogram was performing. At the time, I was clueless to what I was being mesmerized by. It is one of those festival moments that I will never forget as I became a Phantogram fan. The focus of their show was music off of their debut album Eyelid Movies. Now, I am going to pay homage to the band and review one of my favorite albums of recent years.

If there was one thing that I understood after seeing the duo out of Saratoga Springs, New York it was that Phantogram’s album was expected to be great from start to finish. Let me tell you Eyelid Movies did not disappoint me and it will not disappoint you either. It starts with “Mouthful of Diamonds“, a track that showcases the various talents of this duo. They blend elements of electronic music with hip-hop beats while demonstrating a canny ability to have lyrics that draw you in. Phantogram continues to showcase their talent of blending all of these components throughout the length of the album.

When I’m Small” reiterates that the first track was not just a great opening song that gives you false hope in a band and in an album. It comes in with a heavy hitting bass line. Then slows to a mellow tempo to lighten your mood. Just to come back as a heavy hitter, again. You have to love Phantogram’s ability to change tempos over the course of a single song. In “Turn it Off” you get the first opportunity to hear Josh Carter singing on a track. It is a song that resonates with me and probably many men that have been a little more than difficult in a past relationship.

The fourth track, “Running from the Cops”, has to be my favorite from the album. That is a prestigious honor because this album had five or six possible suitors to take the title as my favorite. The reason it has to be my favorite is because of the sitar sound that Sarah Barthel creates on the keyboard that gives it that Middle Eastern feel. Along with the sound of the sitar, they add trippy sounding lyrics which allow this song to differentiate itself just enough to make it unique while not jeopardizing the overall sound of Eyelid Movies.

After two tracks featuring Josh they come back with Sarah again on the vocals in “All Dried Up”. Being a duo where both members can contribute instrumentally and vocally is a key to their success. Her voice is perfect for the dream sequence that this song creates. It allows you to drift off and then builds up powerfully, just to come to a sudden halt, leaving you in anticipation for the next track. “As Far as I Can See” gets back to their roots of crafty hip-hop sounding electronica. They follow it up with “You Are the Ocean” which is a powerful electronic ballad that features Josh Carter’s ability to really sing and it to put it simply; it is magnificent. Phantogram does a great job of switching who is the featured singer helping to break up the album.

The eighth track on the album, “Bloody Palms”, is the first that really features both members singing together. Eyelid Movies keeps rolling smoothly along to “Futuristic Casket” as your head bobs along to the bad ass beat. As I listen to the album, I tend to feel sorry for the people who have not been introduced to Phantogram, yet. Their ability to blend such heavy hitting beats with elements that are relaxing is mind-boggling to me. “Let Me Go” is placed strategically at the end of the album to give you a sense that you should get ready for them to be on their way. Fortunately for you, the album still has a final song. Keep in mind you can always keep the album on a heavy spin cycle and repeat. The last song, “10,000 Claps”, finishes you off with a nice comfortable money shot to the inner ear. Her voice’s beauty shines over the mellowness of the final track and I applaud Phantogram for putting the night-cap on Eyelid Movies with “10,000 Claps”.

Album Release Date: May 12, 2009


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