Phantogram – Three
Difficult to argue with Three's convincing lead track, the radio-friendly extravagance that is You Don't Get Me High Anymore. How it whips itself into a dizzy mess before chomping down on its skyscraper chorus is a demonstration of pop smarts advanced enough to suggest that this is breakthrough time for the American duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter. "Used to take one, now it takes four" intones Barthel with a breathy detachment that recalls Curve (ask your mum) or prime Garbage (ask your big sis).
Carter takes a couple of smart turns, most notably on the beautifully maudlin Barking Dog ("Hurt people hurt people too") but it's Barthel's stage and she owns it. Equipped with volume, technique and range, she's A Proper Singer – think Benatar (ask your gran) rather than Mayberry. You're Mine lifts Crystal Castles' copyrighted stuttering synth trick. Run Run Blood matches urban beats to Three's biggest hook. There's little sag.
It's neither ground-breaking, nor particularly soulful, but it's distinct enough and far cooler than you might expect. So it scores in line with its drearily predictable title for originality, but Three is better than that, and Phantogram's fix and mend methods, and above average song craft, are admirable and compelling. An unexpected treat.
Listen to: Barking Dog, Run Run Blood