Review Summary: When a Dolphin meets a Unicorn.....
One of my favorite albums of 2013 came to me only by chance as I was purposelessly surfing the internet like some kind of satanic, flying spaghetti monster possessed Captain Planet. A bandcamp link titled "Youth and Immortality" came to my attention due to it's simple but striking artwork. It was released back in March 2013 by a London based trio that I had never heard before called Phosphor. I decided to briefly sample it and after hearing the pulsing, synth heavy opener "One Night In Rome" I was convinced that more good things were to come from this band so I decided to continue.
"One Night In Rome" kicks off the album with a bang. Deep baritone female vocals, mechanical percussion and dreamy synthesizers drive the song with a nostalgic splash of the 80's thrown in for good measure. It's simultaneously oppressive and optimistic sounding as the infectious foot tapping tempo of the track takes over the body and makes it a perfect (decrepit) dance floor anthem for angsty goths wriggling and writhing their bodies in the shadows of their local graveyard. Phosphors tread in similar waters as Tropic of Cancer but are not even close of being a carbon copy of their peers. Phosphor's primary sound hovers around vintage darkwave and coldwave with moderate traces of shoegaze and post-punk thrown in for good measure. The production is crystal clear and the atmosphere is hazy which is a interesting dynamic. Instruments and vocals are heard perfectly but the echoing nature of the synth lines and ethereal female vocals coupled with the music's gloomy atmosphere gives off a permanent feeling of melancholy. Which is a good thing to me. The next track "Entrophy" is a more aggressive track featuring a looming rhythm sequence that wouldn't sound out of place in a particular man eating shark movie. It's a foreboding track that makes you think you're about to get snacked on by a denizen of the deep.
The songwriting on the album is one of the highest points of Youth and Immortality. The eight tracks presented all have something remarkable to offer. Tempos consistently fluctuate which give the music some variety and help keep the ball rolling. You have your goth floor dance numbers, you have your falling asleep alone and depressed jams and you have those that fall in between. In the vocals you can hear some Siouxie and the Bansheeism's which sound pretty nice in the context of Phosphor's music. The synthesizers are very dense and spacey sounding, invoking in my mind intergalactic battles between celestial ocean dolphins and majestic space unicorns that end up duking it out to the scenic backdrop of a rainbow downpour on their fluorescent, foreign turf. Additionally, atmospheres can darken down or lighten up to compliment both the intricate nature of the music and the turmoil between the dolphins and unicorns. This band's ability to be musically engrossing on all fronts without faltering is highly commendable even if Youth and Immortality does happen to be a relatively short album.
Youth and Immortality is a terrific debut album that I can't say enough good things about. Everything about Phosphors is exciting to me. Their vintage music style, their black nail polished charm, their expansive synths and their dream like atmosphere have turned me into a fan for life. It's a damn shame that this band hasn't received more recognition on sputnik but I hope that soon enough that these gals and guy will.