Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014 12:50 am est

Phantogram’s new album represents departure from previous work

Posted on February 21, 2014 | by Clio McConnell


Phantogram, the musical duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, took their time to release their second full-length album “Voices.”

It has been four years since the release of Phantogram’s first LP “Eyelid Movies” in 2010.  “Voices” has been highly anticipated since the 2011 release of the captivating EP “Nightlife,” which featured addicting, hyped indie hits such as “Don’t Move” and “16 Years,” both making the rounds on various television shows and commercials.

Barthel and Carter’s music gravitates toward an almost hypnotic sound — electronic chillwave with infusions of hip-hop — and will inevitably have listeners tapping their feet and nodding their heads.

However, “Voices” does not pack quite the same punch and allure as their previous releases.

The album opens promisingly with “Nothing But Trouble,” in which Barthel’s haunting voice delivers a dark serenade that sounds like she is fighting a battle within herself.

As the album progresses, listeners hear softer sounds than that of Phantogram’s previous works. The hazy production provides an eerie tone for the entirety of the album. Clear standouts are “Black Out Days” and “Fall In Love,” both of which come at the beginning of the album and tread similar sonic territory as previous releases.

Barthel’s voice often overshadows Carter’s, even in the songs where Carter takes the lead (“Never Going Home” and “I Don’t Blame You”). While Carter’s voice is entrancing in its own right, it is simply no match for Barthel’s.

An intriguing track comes by way of “Bill Murray,” which is perhaps the sharpest departure for Phantogram. The song has a sunny lilt and a cheeky title. The band is straying away from the sharp punches that made “Eyelid Movies” and “Nightlife” so arresting.

Toward the end of the album is the gorgeous “Celebrating Nothing,” on which Barthel morbidly begs “Give me a reason to stay alive,” resurrecting the somber mood from earlier in the album.

The album’s final number is “My Only Friend,” a dreamy song that fails to leave a lasting impression.

“Voices” has its ups and downs but, as a whole, the scale is tipped in a positive direction. Phantogram have softened their voice and toned down some of the elements that fans initially fell in love with. The result is still beautiful.

Madeleine Grossman is a contributing writer. Email her at


profile portrait
Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.


Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

  • How to join:

    The Washington Square News holds open weekly budget meetings at its office located at 838 Broadway every Sunday. All are welcome to attend, no matter your background in journalism, writing, or reporting. Specific times for meetings by desk are listed below. If you wish to talk to an editor before you attend, feel free to check out the Staff page.

    5 P.M. 6 P.M. 6 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 6:30 P.M. 7 P.M.

    Applying for an editor position: Applications for editor positions during the fall or spring semesters are available twice each academic year and can be found here when posted. Applications for the Fall 2012 semester are closed, but check back for Spring 2013. Those who wish to apply are urged to publish pieces in the newspaper and contact current editors for shadowing.

    History of the Washington Square News:

    The Washington Square News is the official daily student newspaper of New York University and serves the NYU, Greenwich Village, and East Village communities. Founded as an independent newspaper in 1973, the WSN allows its undergraduate writers and photographers to cover campus and city news and continues to grow its strong body of award-winning journalists and photographers.

  • The WSN has a circulation of about 60,000 and can be found in over a hundred purple bins distributed throughout campus. It is published Monday through Thursday during the fall and spring semesters and online on Friday, with additional special issues published in the summer. The newspaper recently revamped its website during the Fall 2012 semester.

    Like few campus newspapers in the country, the paper is editorially and financially independent from the university and is solely responsible for selling advertisements to fund its production. The WSN, including its senior staff, is run solely by current undergraduate students and the business-division is largely student-operated as well.

    A Board of Directors comprised of alumni, NYU professors and working news media professionals serves as advisors to the paper. Board members have no control in the WSN's editorial policy or newsroom operations. Alumni of the newspaper are established and leading journalists in such news organizations as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC news, ABC news, Fox News, and USA Today.