20 Watts

20 Watts Reviews Phantogram’s Eyelid Movies by Irina Dvalidze

Phantogram finally releases Eyelid Movies

PREVIEW: VISIT Phanotgram’s My Space
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts

Three years into their career, Phantogram is finally gracing the public with their debut album Eyelid Movies. The Saratoga Springs duo, consisting of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, wowed when they were featured as the Starbucks iTunes pick of the week with “Mouthful Of Diamonds.” Following in the footsteps of their fellow upstate New Yorkers Ra Ra Riot, Phantogram will be releasing the record via Barsuk Records.

Eyelid Movies is exactly what one would expect. Dominated by countless layers of sound, the release combines every imaginable style into surprisingly symphonic arrangements. The electronic beats give the album a fast pace, which is ideally balanced with the occasional electro lullabies like “10,000 Claps” and  “All Dried Up.”

Lyrically Phantogram aim for simplistic perfection, relying primarily on sound for expression– an effect that is quite haunting to say the least. While the release it utterly melodic, it has a strange horror appeal fit for a David Lynch film. Lyrics such as “ten thousand rats waiting in line for me” can even make Disneyland seem slightly creepy. Strangely the duo makes this work for them.  The ghostlike intonation is laced through most of the sounds on the album.  While Barthel’s synth sounds are drenched in chilling notes, the background beats give the album a necessary steady pace, making the listen into quite an experience.

Both Barthel and Carter contribute strong vocals throughout, adding a creative range to the overall album. Carter with a deeper mellow voice serves as a perfect accompaniment to Barthel’s delicate high notes.  In “When I’m Small” her vocals are perfectly detached, fitting ideally with Carter’s minimalistic guitar plucks and repetitive keyboard strokes.

While overall the sound is quite refreshing, it does get hum drum on occasion, an error sure to be fixed in future releases. As far as the debut album goes, Phantogram do an adequate job defining their sound and creating their signature sound.

–Irina Dvalidze



This is criminal! haha. jk. I’d give it more like a 16-17/20 Watts. SPIN liked it. (4 out of 5 stars)

Comment by tjwell01

ok you need to read closer. Spin hated it, the 4 of 5 stars were user reviews.

Comment by irinadvalidze

Then ya’ll are crazy. Phantogram is more than solid.

Comment by tjwell01

I see nothing in the Spin review that indicates the reviewer hated it, but I do agree with Dvalidze that there are a few weak areas that could be improved upon with Eyelid Movies. That being said, this album has been on repeat since I received my pre-order last week and I look forward to many great things from Phantogram.

Comment by llh

and i quote “Often gorgeous and never soothing, the damaged pop on Phantogram’s mesmerizing debut is pure nightmare fuel. Meshing grubby synths, shimmering guitars, and fractured funk beats, upstate New Yorkers Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter suggest an ’80s new-wave band gone horribly wrong, their uneasy voices ranging from muted disappointment to fearful agitation. In kinder hands, “As Far as I Can See” might become an elegant R&B anthem, but the wistful “All Dried Up” is straight-up desperate isolation, and the shivery “Running From the Cops” feels just plain creepy.” i would hardly consider that positive. no?

Comment by irinadvalidze

I totally agree with 14/20 Watts. The only good songs on that album were ones they’d already released on EP. :/

Comment by caitlindewey

I’d like to thank Caitlin for inserting some reason into this… Also, I could honestly care less what any other publication gives an album. Just because SPIN or Rolling Stone or Pitchfork likes something doesn’t automatically mean that it’s actually that great, and we should adjust our grades accordingly. I personally would have given the album an even lower grade.

Comment by johncassillo

14/20 is decent.
it’s a good album, but apart from the singles, nothing too memorable.
won’t keep me from listening to it a ton though! 🙂

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