Release Date: Feb 9, 2010
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Electronic
They couldn't have picked a better title. Eyelid Movies, the debut LP from the self-proclaimed "street beat" duo Phantogram, is a lush and evocative thumper indebted to the sultry side of Moby's Play. Riding a steady trip-hop inspired groove, the hushed and mostly mellow Eyelid Movies seems a fine companion piece to a long stroll or something more sedentary and meditative; point being, it sounds great in the background.
Seeing that the New York duo Phantogram’s debut album is on Barsuk, one might assume they are gentle indie rockers or, since they are a male/female duo, maybe something along the lines of Mates of State. You might not guess that they are trip-hop revivalists. They are though, and Eyelid Movies sounds like nothing other than a lost Mono or Alpha record.
Apparently the atmospheric indie duo Phantogram hails from Saratoga Springs and records in a barn. I’ll take their word for it, but few albums sound as California as their debut, Eyelid Movies. Stealing equally from Portishead, Massive Attack, and Sonic Youth, the record evokes an inviting big-sky sunscape laced with underlying menace, like the state that counts Brian Wilson and Charles Manson as equal icons.
The Saratoga Springs, New York duo of Josh Carter (guitar) and Sarah Barthel (keys/vocals) delivers an impressive debut full of dark beat-driven electronic rock. Opener and lead single "Mouthful of Diamonds" unfolds like a night blooming flower with some truly excellent layered vocals from Barthel and a smooth, clean, almost country sounding guitar line from Carter. It's followed by the album's second single "When I'm Small," a driving piece of 8-bit melodrama that grows more ambitious, almost anthematic, as the song moves along.
“Wake up” are the first words uttered on Saratoga Springs, NY duo Phantogram’s debut long player Eyelid Movies. The album’s title refers to the spots and shapes one can sometimes see dancing across their eyelids, and it’s an apt name for a record whose musical identity comes in all different shapes and sizes. From the hip-hop loops and grungy, Dust Brothers-style synths of “Running from the Cops,” to the new wave balladry of “All Dried Up,” and the trip-hop cool of “You Are the Ocean,” these are kinds of left-of-center pop tunes that, in the mid-‘90s, could have sneaked their way onto Top 40 and modern-rock playlists (which were basically the same thing back then).
It's easy to see why the Phantogram's debut has been one of the most hotly anticipated electronic releases of 2010. With the buzz surrounding the band's 2009 EP, Running From the Cops, and after a knockout live performave at CMJ, comparisons can easily be made to the wild success that greeted the XX last year and Portishead's return the year previous. Phantogram has a few other similarities, as well, such as feminine vocals, eclectic tendencies, and slow pacing.
A refreshing, unusual and diverting debut record. Lou Thomas 2009 It would be lazy to dub New York state pair Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter '2009’s Chairlift', but the similarities are there for all to hear. Both groups have a neat line in minimal beats, occasionally psychedelic electro-indie art strangeness, lush beds of synthesizer and enticing female vocals.
Phantogram's sort of the East Coast answer to Yacht. The songs on debut Eyelid Movies aren't as roller-rink ready as the Portland, Ore., duo's, though this Saratoga Springs, N.Y., twosome finds definite grooves in which to etch its love songs. Massive Attack, Portishead, and Cocteau Twins all come to mind in the first half; guitarist Josh Carter and keyboardist Sarah Barthel obviously have an affinity for British moods and screwed beats.