Friday, March 12, 2010

REVIEW: Phantogram-Eyelid Movies

Phantogram - Eyelid Movies

Phantogram is lost in translation.

Now wait, that's not necessarily negative. Working through the Saratoga Springs duo's debut release on Barsuk, I'd had flashbacks to Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson wandering through fluorescent wonderlands, occasionally broken up by images of the chemical and mystic light of the nondescript city of Tyler Durden.

Eyelid Movies isn't just a strong reminder of those curious moments in cinema, it's lost in translation between genres, something that a lot of up and coming bands struggle with. I want to make it perfectly clear that fitting into the preconceived genres we music critics come up with on the Internet isn't a prerequisite to a successful album. Rather, where Eyelid Movies conjures up that dreaming image as a title and it's a pretty literal description of the album's tone.

And that tone leads me to struggle with an album that doesn't quite settle for ambiance, even though moments of brilliant composition and chorus ("You are the Ocean"), or even dynamic hip-hop rhythms ("Futuristic Casket") scream to be fleshed out.

Phantogram use a pretty standard mix of machine-clinking drums, airy and echoing melodies and harmonies, and the occasional well-looped guitar riff to rope us into their sound. Truthfully, it's not a bad place to drift into when you're looking for an album to relax the mind, or stimulate that subconsciousness that is always asking for a beat. The band definitely has convention on its side. When it comes to a good hook and and ghostly harmonies, Eyelid Movies doesn't disappoint.

It would be interesting for me to see what comes out of Eyelid Movies. Phantogram has had no trouble demonstrating here that they have talent for soundtrack music, but I would like to see them take the base they've built here and strike forward into some uncharted territory.

Phantogram is the brainchild of Upstate (relative term, I know) natives Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel. See them at SXSW and on tour this spring with the Antlers.

Phantogram on Myspace

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