iTunes Single of the Week: Phantogram, “Nothing But Trouble”

phantogram-chalkboardYou’ve probably heard of Phantogram, but you’ve just as likely never actually heard them– at least not knowingly.  The Greenwich, New York-based electronica duo of Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel has been best known previously for collaborative work with Outkast’s Big Boi, but their fuzzy, trip-hoppy music is definitely worth a listen on its own.  Much like last week’s featured act, Broods, the centerpiece of the group’s sound is a ghostly female voice, and Barthel’s melancholy, airy vocals fill the bill nicely– she has an impressive range and a fearless delivery that belies the self-deprecating lyrics of this week’s single, “Nothing But Trouble.”

An ode to personal madness, “Trouble” creates an atmosphere of smooth paranoia with its fractured, stuttering yet rock-steady beats and feedback-heavy guitar.  Rather than sailing above the dense mix, Barthel’s voice blends into it, becoming an instrument of its own.   The track doesn’t necessarily have a hook– it feels more like a dark progression, a song that isn’t so much catchy as relentless, one that pulls in the listener instead of merely attracting attention.  The musical undertow is completed with that rarest of beasts, a guitar solo, in this case a frenetic, dissolute sonic wall of wail that actually takes you by surprise when it abruptly ends, along with the track itself.  It may not be a song you’ll listen to every day, but it’s a fine mood piece, and as it’s free this week, not a purchase you’ll regret.  The SeriouslyFluffy Final Grade:  B+

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