The most recent release from electro-pop duo Phantogram—October's single “In a Spiral,” which will be on their forthcoming album—kicks off with a riff that sounds like it’d be at home somewhere in an Ennio Morricone score (or, maybe more accurately, like it’d be snipped out of an Ennio Morricone score and needle-dropped into a Quentin Tarantino movie). But then Josh Carter's beat drops in, and the handclaps pile on top of the synths, and Sarah Barthel’s vocals drive ahead, sometimes clear, sometimes echoing. It’s a remarkably constructed track, and rolls ahead with such energy that, even at over three minutes long, feels way too short. “In a Spiral” and a few other singles are the only work that’s come from Phantogram since their 2016 album Three
, but the tracks hint toward something very good coming down the line—excellent news for everyone who’s been nodding along ever since their pretty much universally beloved debut, 2010’s Eyelid Movies
. Like that album, and like 2014’s Voices
, “In a Spiral” highlights what makes Phantogram stand out from the rest of the synth-riffing hordes: An ability to bring imaginative structures and a welcoming, intimate warmth to a genre that all too often feels chilly and self-satisfied.
by Erik Henriksen