Hopelessness. It’s not exactly a pleasant feeling, but a familiar one nonetheless. This is exactly the mood that Phantogram is trying to convey in their latest releases “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore” and “Run Run Blood.” The duo — Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, who are preparing for the release of their third studio album, appropriately titled Three on October 14 — has taken a step away from working with Big Boi on Big Grams and dedicated time to once again releasing music themselves.
You’ll notice, after taking a listen to either single, that the Phantogram has leaped into a much darker place, playing edgier, more hardcore melodies. It’s still dream pop underneath it all, only this time with a significantly more aggressive kick.
The reasoning for this is the series of events that the duo has endured while writing the album, most prominently, the death of Barthel’s sister, Rebecca. The two take tragedy and the feeling of losing all that is close (including some of their inspirations, such as Bowie and Prince) and channel that dark energy into sinister and masterful pieces of music.
Phantogram Leads with Masterful Metaphors
“You Don’t Get Me High Anymore,” the group’s first release and video for the album, features an eclectic mix of electronic elements that can be found in many of today’s most popular hits — along with a series of explosive rock rhythms, heavy synth and guitar, and haunting echos that bring the song to a whole new level. It’s evident that the group hasn’t been afraid to team up with some big names in the industry to come back with a sounds that truly fit their increasing stardom.
The video, directed by Grant Singer (Skrillex, Future,The Weeknd), is set near the Salton Sea in Southern California, a region that was once a popular tourist destination, having since been devastated by endless droughts and climate change. Carter and Barthel tie in these images of misery as well as addiction strewn throughout the video to represent how something that once brought so much joy is no longer what it used to be. The video — which is so aesthetically pleasing and odd (science experiments, tsunamis…hmm) it’s like Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” minus the gore, of course — allows us to spiral further and further down this anxiously dark path.
Phantogram followed this up with their second release, “Run Run Blood,” that can only be described as a massively progressive explosion of heavy guitar and super dense synth — an even gloomier sequel to its gloomy predecessor. Carter told Stereogum, who first released the track, that the track “is about the sad state of the world we live in today. It feels like the blind leading the blind sometimes.”
As a fan of Phantogram’s previous albums, it is exciting to get a preview for the experimentation with rhythm on Three and the consistently-evolving sound that Phantogram is known for.
After their recent appearance at Chicago’s Lollapalooza, the duo will begin an extensive fall tour.