Electronic/rock crossover duo, Phantogram, have a spellbinding propensity for sonic shadow play. The duo has reemerged with their first release of 2019, “Into Happiness.” The track supersedes the group’s recent announcement of a 25-date North American tour through the US and Canada.
The song weaves members, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter’s voices into its fibers for a multi-toned jaunt through the length of their emotional pallets. Where Carter’s intonations represent the tumultuously melancholic mental state the group has been openly grappling with since their Three LP of 2016, Barthel’s ring with bliss. Her ecstatic vocal/synth hook (“Fall into happiness / …No more loneliness”) swells through the chorus like a melodic rush of blood to the veins after a prolonged period of dopamine depravity. But still a darkness looms in the dream pop foundation, as Barthel’s lucid sweetness intertwines with Carter’s pain-clad clamors through the interludes, evocative of the non-linear, cyclical nature of sadness.
The darkness ensconcing Phantogram’s members (and inevitably their music) came to a crest after the death of a family member while the duo was recording Three. In 2018, the group paid tribute to Barthel’s sister, who died by suicide, issuing standalone single, “Someday,” with a portion of proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Barthel addressed the organization on death, particularly suicide, as a pervasive theme in her life, and its overall reverberative nature.
“Suicide is really complicated, because in a way, it’s like an illness people blame on themselves,” said Barthel. “Mental health conditions are just as powerful as physical illnesses. What’s dangerous is that people aren’t as educated about it.”
“Into Happiness” is a cogent return to light. Though the shroud remains in part. That’s precisely the paradox that allows Phantogram to haunt a head space long after the record stops spinning.
Tickets and information about the tour can be found here.
Photo Credit: Charles Reagan Hackleman