Phantogram are at their best on their new single, In A Spiral

Phantogram are at their best on their new single, In A Spiral

The US electronic duo's third single for the year makes it three from three, in a masterclass on consistency.

Header image by Eliot Lee Hazel.

Over the last ten years, US duo Phantogram have consistently that they're an incredible, defining force of US electronica - even if you're not too familiar with their work. The duo, composed of Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter, are heavyweights amongst the international dance music world and one of the US' most popular acts within this space; their rock-meets-pop-meets-dance cross-over meaning they've been able to support both Muse and The XX over the years, while their sound caters to just about everyone (in other words, regardless of what sub-space of music you prefer, you'd probably enjoy Phantogram).

While their 2016 album Three was a moment of commercial success for the duo (they're often regarded in that realm of artists that have a cult audience, without a runaway, chart-topping single), the last few months have seen Phantogram put out some of their best work yet: genre-bending moments of experimental forward-thinkingness that marks their return after a few years of quietness. There was Into Happiness - a euphoric, indie-teasing side of their sound thick with percussion - and Mister Impossible, a step up as they confront sounds more in-tune with their earlier, electronic-rich sound.

Their new single In A Spiral, however, may be their best to date. It's a dark moment of shattering electro-pop that contrasts the beauty of Sarah Barthel's vocal with a looming, menacing production that growls with distorted synth melodies and percussive rhythms, with Josh Carter's production work on display as it ebbs and flows amongst Sarah's vocal, which this time around, came a little last-minute before a writing trip to Joshua Tree.

"In A Spiral started from a beat that Josh had in his back pocket for quite some time, which I had gravitated to immediately and written some vocal ideas for," she says on the track. "But the song was waiting for the right moment to reveal itself to us... We threw it on at the last minute while we were preparing to go record in Joshua Tree at the magical Rancho de la Luna with our friend Boots, and once we got out there everything started to fall into place."

"I started chopping up sample patterns, and we all messed around with a few analogue synths till we found the right vibe," Josh continues. "We finished up the track in LA with Andrew Dawson. There’s a lot of energy in this song with dark, interesting wordplay. An inspiring feeling of making music in the desert. Beauty in desolation."

Dive into the track below:

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