Tuesday 5 May 2009


Ever since receiving a random Myspace ‘add friend’ request a few years ago from a band called Charlie Everywhere, I have been an avid fan of their work. I listened to the music, was utterly smitten and literally bought the T shirt. Finally, their first mini-album has arrived. And they’ve changed their name to something a little less awkward.

Phantogram, as they now style themselves, are a duo from Saratoga Springs, New York. They are Joshua Carter and Sarah Barthel, and they perform beautiful, if occasionally creepy, electronic pop songs. Fans of School of Seven Bells or Fever Ray should roll up, roll up and give them an ear.

The album starts with ‘Mouthful of Diamonds’, a track that that is both joyous and wistful, and as blissful a slice of electric pop as you will hear all summer. I’ve been playing versions of this for a couple of years now and it is still as fresh as the first time I heard it.

Next comes ‘Running from the Cops’ which has an incessant, nagging, almost insect-like buzz of a backing beat and a vocal from Joshua that is heavily distorted. Sarah provides ethereal “Ooh Oohs.” It reeks of paranoia. And yet is still a gloriously catchy tune.

‘When I’m Small’ has a distinctive bass guitar riff, but once more there is an electronic wash of unease. Sarah has an appropriately tiny voice on this, almost inaudible but perfect.

‘Bloody Palms’ is a more straightforward tune, with Joshua on lead for the first half until Sarah responds with her own verses in the latter stages. The guitars stutter and pop behind them, but s l o w l y.

Final track ‘Voices’ is as epic as these two get, the vocals getting ever high until supplanted by an electric drone. It’s gentle, and has Joshua whispering “What have I done to you?”

I’m a fan, so not objective on matters Phantogram. However, I think that there is so much potential here that this album is in many ways simply the end of the beginning phase of what Sarah and Joshua will achieve. The first two songs in particular make this an essential purchase. Check ‘em out now.

Phantogram is available on CE Records/Sub Bombin now.

‘Running From The Cops’ is available worldwide on BBE Records from 12th May.

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