Phantogram’s ‘Voices’ provides melancholy lyrics, light guitars

By Carl Nadig

Phantogram’s electrifying new album, “Voices,” could be played for hours on end and your ears would be grateful.

Based out of Greenwich, N.Y., duo collaborators Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter leaked their sophomore album online before its official Tuesday release. Building on its 2010 “Eyelid Movies,” “Voices” is a freaky combination of electronic rock and pop and utilizes reverberating guitar melodies to drive its synthesized keyboards.

Arguably, one of the best qualities of this album is how it teases the idea of conflicting personalities. At the album’s core is a tense relationship between beauty and sorrow. The dynamic between the two musicians is based on longing for one another.

While Barthel’s vocals are beautiful, her lyrics express cynicism, melancholy and self-induced loneliness. Her lyrics, especially in “Nothing But Trouble,” juxtapose Carter’s harmonious guitar melodies, which lightly tingle underneath a buzzy bass.

Barthel’s disturbing lyricism shows in “Fall in Love” when she sings “Love, it cut a hole into your eyes. You couldn’t see you were the car I crashed. Now you’re burning alive.” Beauty and fear mingle, making this album chilling.

The album’s overall sound resonates like a dirtier Portishead. And, unlike other contemporary albums — like Lady Gaga’s “Artpop” — this album doesn’t try to glamorize itself. Instead, “Voices” is a memorable album because of Barthel and Carter’s ability to tease their audience with restrictions.

The only negative aspect about “Voices” is it feels too short. The album is less than 45 minutes long.

During “Voice’s” most dramatic points, the songs have the tendency to abruptly end during solos, vocal cries and when the feeling of the song is about to rise another level. For example, the eccentric solo in “Nothing But Trouble” falls short just before it fades into silence.

Even during slow slow-paced songs such as “Bad Dreams,” the album attains a sensual atmosphere throughout. Songs like “Bad Dreams” possess a tangy bass line that acts like a slow, easy-going waltz.