Phantogram’s third full length album Three centers on the themes of addiction and acceptance from the self-described psych pop duo of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter. Suffering through the untimely loss of Barthel’s sister last January, the expected emotions from this kind of event are channeled to create meaning from loss. Despite the somber overtone, they weave in light hearted reprieves to balance the scales.
The first half of the album begins with a crawl in the slow building “Funeral Pyre”, but by the time “Same Old Blues” gets rolling out Phantogram’s fans will feel right at home. It’s both self-aware and deprecating, and the catchy hooks Carter employs makes for some of the album’s best moments. Barthel’s vocals throughout are superb as usual. She alternates from violent outburst to haunting reflections with ease. Carter stays in the background producing for the most part, but notably shares the spotlight with Barthel on the standout track “You’re Mine”.
Clocking in at a lean thirty-six minutes, Phantogram’s third full album is a whirlwind in every sense. The erratic and sometimes uneven nature is part of the fun however, and the dark romanticism and vulnerability found within the lyrics makes the whole ride worth a listen. Three doesn’t reinvent the sound Phantogram has established over the years. However, it is a solid street beat album that showcases the best of the artists’ talents while admirably never flinching away from their personal flaws.