Phantogram: Eyelid Movies

Phantogram: Eyelid Movies

B+

Phantogram

Album: Eyelid Movies
Label: Barsuk

Upstate New York has long been a destination for pilgrims yearning to pare back the excesses of the present in order to reconnect with old ways that have been dismissed as anachronistic by the rest of the world. Phantogram, the pride of Saratoga Springs, one-upped Bob Dylan in the goin’ rustic department by recording its full-length debut, Eyelid Movies, in a barn, though the results are far removed from the all-American re-imaginings of The Basement Tapes. Singer-keyboardist Sarah Barthel and guitarist Josh Carter instead favor the old-timey sounds of languid Britpop melodies, booming old-school drum loops, and other noir-ish, sensuous sonic hallmarks of mid-’90s trip-hop. But even as the influences diverge, the spirit of stripped-down, no-fuss simplicity remains. “You Are The Ocean” rides along on a finger-snap rhythm and an ethereal guitar line lifted from a Massive Attack record, an ideal backdrop for Carter to gush about being swallowed up in obsessive love. Elsewhere, Barthel affects an aloof cool on the lithe “Mouthful Of Diamonds,” dropping a toxic reference to “getting high on your own supply” in the opening line that’s later expressed musically in the amphetamine death twitch of “Running From The Cops.” Eyelid Movies ultimately has more atmosphere than songs, but for a band goin’ down the road to see Beth Gibbons, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

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