Album of the Week: Phantogram, 'Ceremony'


Phantogram, 'Ceremony'
Phantogram, 'Ceremony' (Republic)

Phantogram's new release is called Ceremony, and it's our Album of the Week.

The band's previous album, 2016's Three, dealt with some heady topics, namely the death of vocalist Sarah Barthel's sister. (The band discussed the sad atmosphere around the record in a memorable in-studio interview in 2016.) Barthel and bandmate Josh Carter have spoken about how touring behind the record made for an even more emotionally draining experience, and they sought a new headspace for their next release.

The first single, "Into Happiness," heralded this sentiment with a message of empowerment. It was only upon consulting the credits for Ceremony that I realized that the Smashing Pumpkins' William [sic] Corgan is listed as a co-writer; Corgan is evidently a longtime fan of the band, and the song soars accordingly. "In a Spiral" finds a bit more of a pessimistic tone, displaying the urgency and panic we all seem to be finding in our own lives lately.

A trademark of every Phantogram release seems to be a slow release of strong singles in the buildup to the album, then a mixed bag when it comes to the rest of the album tracks. Ceremony generally adheres to that pattern, though the rest of the songs each bear unique attributes that make the record a uniformly compelling listen.

Ceremony is another solid addition to what's shaping up to be a strong Phantogram catalog.

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