Image by Eliot Lee Hazel
It’s not unfamiliar territory for Phantogram – considering their 2016 track “Run Run Blood” was no bundle of cheer. And the dark synth-pop duo’s newest single “In a Spiral” again announces its harrowing position right in the title.
Recorded in Joshua Tree, its bleak lyrical viewpoint pulls no punches: “I can see the end is coming round / Every day, every day, in a spiral / Better help me now, I’m going down,” howls singer Sarah Barthel. Musically, it opens with a chilling, operatic screech, before settling into ominous, Depeche-Mode-like atmospherics, with a menacing beat, and funereal but opulent synthesized strings. Despite its personal overtones, one needn’t work hard to read into its apocalyptic metaphors – certainly nodding to the current socio-political zeitgeist.
“I started chopping up sample patterns, and we all messed around with a few analogue synths ’till we found the right vibe,” says Barthel’s musical accomplice Josh Carter. “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.”