Phantogram‘s last album, 2016’s Three, is not an easy listen. That record was heavily influenced by the suicide of vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Sarah Barthel‘s sister, who was also a close friend of Barthel’s band mate, Josh Carter. The duo’s newest album, Ceremony, is not necessarily a brighter record, but it does find Barthel and Carter trying to forge a path forward.
“It is moving forward,” Barthel tells ABC Audio of Ceremony. “It’s also just kinda life after losing someone to suicide. Just life in general. The record is just as dark, I think, as all of our other ones.”
“Most of our albums have a pretty dark nature behind them,” Carter adds. “That’s just kind of where we tend to gravitate with our writing. But definitely there are elements of the new album where we are moving forward and living life just differently, I guess.”
The theme of Ceremony is most apparent on the sad, longing, but ultimately hopeful single “Into Happiness.” It’s actually the first Phantogram song to include the word “happiness,” which Barthel feels is at least a “little bit” significant.
“It’s the hopeful side of us,” Barthel says. “I think what we gravitate towards is there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel. Just being a little bit more specific with it, with the lyric ‘happiness,’ it was exciting to us.”
“Into Happiness” was actually co-written by Billy Corgan, and the Smashing Pumpkins frontman also plays a guitar solo on the Ceremony song “Love Me Now.”
“It’s crazy, because Siamese Dream is one of my favorite albums of all time,” Carter says. “He expressed interest in wanting to work on music with us, so we had him over in our studio…We had a good experience with him.
Ceremony is out today.
(The number for the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.)
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