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Eyelid Movies ()

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Seeing that the New York duo Phantogram's debut album is on Barsuk, one might assume they are gentle indie rockers or, since they are a male/female duo, maybe something along the lines of Mates of State. You might not guess that they are trip-hop revivalists. They are though, and Eyelid Movies sounds like nothing other than a lost Mono or Alpha record. All the hallmarks of the trip-hop sound are here: the hip-hop drum loops, the off-kilter guitar lines that sound like they were sampled from spy films, actual samples that probably are from old film scores, the dreamily atmospheric synths that cushion the beats like fluffy pillows, and most of all, vocalist Sarah Barthel's whisper-sweet vocals. To the duo's credit, the sound totally works and the record sounds less like a rip than it does a loving re-creation. Songs like "As Far as I Can See" or "When I'm Small" sound as good as anything trip-hoppers back in 1993 were doing. Plus, they add some elements to the basic template that help make things interesting, especially on the songs that Josh Carter sings. "Turn It Off" ups the tempo and adds chopped-up vocal loops, "Bloody Palms" adds a level of angry drama the rest of that album lacks, and most impressively "You Are the Ocean" is a rippling guitar-based dream pop ballad that shows a healthy knowledge of A.R. Kane's catalog. Eyelid Movies is a nostalgia trip at heart, but it isn't a lifeless pastiche by any means. The amount of care the duo gives to the arrangements, the subtle and successful blending of influences, and above all, the high quality of the songs and performances, mean that the record is a success on its own terms. ~ Tim Sendra, Rovi Hide synopsis

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