Phoenix: Bankrupt!

Posted April 23, 2013 by in



4/ 5


Producer: ,
Label: ,
Genre: Rock
Producer: Phoenix, Philippe Zdar
Label: V2, Glassnote, Loyauté
Format: Digital download, compact disc, vinyl
Time: 40:33
Release Date: 23 April 2013
Spin This: "Trying to Be Cool," "Chloroform," "Entertainment,"


Healthy new wave explorations, Julian Casablancas-like singing and crafty synth-rock provide much "entertainment"


Opaque hard-to-decipher lyricism plagues much of the disc

The phoenix continues to rise on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix follow up

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

The phoenix continues to rise on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix follow up

There’s a lot of expectation pegged to indie acts after they break into the mainstream. And the ear of the curious has only but to wonder if the French alt-rock band Phoenix could pull off something better or equal to their 2009 breakthrough LP, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which was welded together with stunning revelations as “Lasso” or “1901.” With a dash of confidence, the band bravely encountered that conversation when they took on SNL with live performances of their lead single, the synth-pop Coldplay-like opera-esque “Entertainment” and a new splendid slow jam (scroll down for details). It was enough to calm the tempest of the curious fan that’s dripping with anxiety for new music.

On this round, Phoenix’s assignment on indie pop is to brighten up its ever-evolving textures. By adding some Strokes, some Talk Talk and modern synthpop to the element, things sound a bit more interesting. Nostalgic may be the appropriate term. “Drakkar Noir” feels like a spoof of The Cars’ rock-pop, and could’ve segued perfectly into “Entertainment,” something my iPod easily detected while on shuffle mode. Instead it actually flows into “Chloroform,” which takes a Mike Oldfield-esque synth loop and uses it to prop up the shell of a hip-hop ballad. That, and the “The Real Thing” – with all of its ubiquitous Steely Dan lyricism – stand out as well accomplished features inside the set, even if the whole disc comes off as being hard to decipher meaning wise, but still exquisitely interesting to hear in art form.

“Trying to Be Cool,” the other song performed while on SNL, is obviously the album’s finest transcendental moment. It’s a sophisticated kaleidoscope composed of dreamy synths, Linn drum accents and Mars’s heartfelt swooning, turning the effort into one hell of an Eighties-inspired new wave slow jam. And then there’s a haze of Prince and a weird production value that feels like the Killers’s “When You Were Young” served on ice.  You almost hate for the song to fade. When it does, it walks away as if it is tracing the last seconds of MJ’s “Human Nature.”  A bit of irony there, Phoenix admits to buying the Harrison 4032 console used to make Thriller on eBay and uses it to make this record. Immediately following that is the seven-minute long title cut. It’s mostly instrumental with the boys playing around with a gut load of enigmatic sounds. The first half is set to a disco beat with whirly synths parading the front; the next half turns into an ambient Pink Floyd experiment.

At times, you really wish for Phoenix to explain exactly their rants about “dating vendetta win small” or their need to talk about “Scandinavian leather” or “biblical bets.”  Guess none of that really matters when you’ve got great stratospheric synth-tastic sounds to play with. And there you go, drowning in their quest for dreamy new wave, as they lead with “the real thing” by saying, “Tell me that’s what you wanted/Follow, follow me.”


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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