Round-Up: Big Boi / Phantogram CD Reviews

Big Boi: Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors
Last week Big Boi released his long-awaited sophomore solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, and three of the album’s tracks are collaborations with Saratoga’s PhantogramSarah Barthel and Josh Carter – co-writing, performing and producing. (Phantogram also joined Big Boi in concert in NYC last Monday for his CD release party, and you can watch the video clips from the concert here.)

We’ve read a big batch of the Vicious Lies album reviews, and assembled this round-up of some of the Phantogram-related excerpts for you:

“That song ['Ascending'] feels like it was intended for the album he’d originally promised would be his next: Daddy Fat Sax: Funk-Soul Crusader, a self-explanatory project shelved when the songs that wound up here took a different shape. That Big Boi has referred to Sarah Barthel of the upstate New York indie-pop duo Phantogram as his ‘new Sleepy Brown’ probably gives you an idea about that shape. Her ethereal voice — which sounds, not at all coincidentally, a hell of a lot like Kate Bush’s — graces three tracks here, buoyed by musical contributions from her bandmate, Josh Carter. ‘Objectum Sexuality’ is a wonderfully weird mélange of Big’s sharp and playful rhymes, Carter’s jagged synths, and Barthel’s icy electro-pop cool; ‘CPU’ taps that same formula with less imaginative results, but ‘Lines,’ which sports an airy, intoxicating chorus, a punchy A$AP Rocky verse, and a breathless 4-a.m.-at-the-club vibe, is more successful.”
- David Peisner, Spin

“The guest list reads like a blog digest. Big Boi shares the synth-pop fever dream “Lines” with moody indie duo Phantogram and cocksure Harlem MC A$AP Rocky.”
- Simon Vozick-Levinson, Rolling Stone

“Phantogram ruin an astounding three songs, at least two of which were almost good (the other being the horrible ‘C.P.U.’)”
- Dan Weiss @ Paste

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“’Objectum Sexuality’ rattles off some of the MC’s freakiest, if most feather-ruffling, one-liners yet… ‘CPU’ plays like an unofficial sequel to “Synthesizer,” an observation that the technological lust predicted in the Outkast classic has come true. Phantogram’s psych pop twinkling enhances the feeling of futuristic sterilization as Big Boi raps about online dating and pornography… ‘Lines’ juggles indulgence and spirituality over Phantogram’s foreboding piano plunks…”
- Dan Caffrey @ Consequence of Sound

“Another treasure is ‘CPU,’ featuring Phantogram, an indie pop group that consists of singer Sarah Barthel and vocalist-guitarist Josh Carter. It’s a sonically upbeat song with Big Boi rapping about the new age of technology, while Barthel sings her airy vocals. Big Boi and Phantogram team up again on the impressive ‘Objectum Sexuality’ and ‘Lines,’ which also features rapper A$AP Rocky.”
- Jonathan Landrum, Jr. @ Huffington Post

“Swedish band Little Dragon and American indie rock duo Phantogram — as well as the female vocalists from each — play a key role in coloring mood of the album. They appear, separately, on five tracks out of a total 14. ‘CPU,’ with Phantogram, offers an electronically infused funk with lyrics grappling with technological advances and their affects on human interaction to match.”
- Adam Fleischer @ XXL

“A chance encounter with Phantogram, facilitated by a music identification application, led to three of these songs. On ‘CPU,’ Phantogram fashion their hazy dream pop into low-wattage EDM.”
- Andy Kellman @ AllMusic

“A lot of the crew from Luscious is brought over for beatcrafting purposes (Organized Noize tragically relegated to a single track on the standard release, two on the Deluxe), but it’s his discovery of Barsuk-signed electro group Phantogram that proves to be his big breakthrough discovery. The group appears and handles production on no less than three of Vicious’ 14 tracks, and they’re almost all stunners. The moody synth piece ‘Lines’ features Sarah Barthel’s ethereal voice turning into a room full of DuPree sisters kindly showing A$AP Rocky where he can drop his verses at, the club-ready ‘CPU’ feels like the best track post-millennial Prince has yet to produce (hold the Tony M, please), and then, of course, there’s the bonkers ‘Objectum Sexuality.’ From a spoken word/violin breakdown after the first verse, a brilliantly chopped-up vocal sample in the chorus, and an honest-to-goodness bridge, Phantogram manage to breathe a whole new life into Big Boi’s aural universe, and the album is all the better for it.”
- Evan Sawdey @ PopMatters

“‘CPU,’ with Phantogram, further showcases the mismatches: A belching bass line gets lost under some dainty bells and a wispy chorus, unfortunately losing some conscious lyrics that sound like a 2012 version of ‘Synthesizer.’”
- Adam Lukach @ RedEye

“Indie Pop band Phantogram lends some vocals and production to the Electronic-pulsing ‘Objectum Sexuality’ and ‘CPU,’ where Big Boi installs his player chip next to Sara Barthel’s soft voice-box. Leave it to Big Boi make a song that would seem like a collage of sonic contradictions on paper, and turn it into an entertaining pulsing anthem that hipsters and Hip-Hoppers can both enjoy.”
- Ron Johnson @ All Hip Hop

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