Monday, 15 June 2009

REVIEW: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Spawned from the same environs Française that provided the world with the breezy synth-pop of Air and the robotic beats of Daft Punk, Phoenix have to live up to something of a pedigree. Despite receiving varied praise for previous releases since the turn of the century, the widespread acclaim afforded their peers has escaped them.........until now.

'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' is a non-stop party of deceptively catchy, flyaway indie-pop with an undercurrent of accessible electronica. Every track, without fail, has something to offer and not once does it occur to hit the skip button.....or leave a song off the playlist, for the more shuffle concious amongst us.

Kicking off with the bounding Lisztomania, the band provides a blueprint for what will be consistently delivered throughout the album. Simple rhythms, a mind-addlingly addictive chorus, and an irresistible Euro-lilt to the English lyrics. The lyrics in themselves are worthy of mention too......but that's getting ahead of ourselves. The following 2-3 double punch of lead single 1901 and the light-as-a-feather Fences combine to form a start to 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' for which many bands would sacrifice the majority of their keyboard fingers. Further in, Countdown and Lasso offer similarly catchy highlights, though in truth it seems unfortunate to elevate anything on this compelling album above its neighbours, such is the complete nature of the effort as a whole.

With the recurring references to air herein - both the artist, for whom Phoenix were the backing band on
'Kelly Watch the Stars', and the atmospheric form - it's certainly reasonable to label this album a summer hit. The lightweight, short and breezy upbeat approach to the majority of songs means that this one will certainly soundtrack many a summer party.....assuming sunshine ever arrives in NYC for more than one weekend at a time......and endless holiday road trips.

Summer hits can indicate throwaway pop, however, lacking depth and rarely recalled after the sunshine fades into the darker recesses of autumn/winter. Hopefully this record will be saved from such a fate by virtue of its lyrical content, which offers plaintive insights into a nostalgia for youth ("Cruel and everlasting that's what you want / Do you remember when 21 years was old"), cultural class boundaries ("This love's for gentlemen only / Wealthiest gentlemen only"), and all manner of melancholy matters of the heart. Beneath the indisputably sunny musical output lies a wealth of varied lyrical emotion to be explored.

The duality on show for the length of
'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' means that it will serve a huge cross-section of indie and, fingers crossed, pop fans alike. For those simply wanting a few memorable tunes to remember their summer, the album delivers handfuls from which to choose. Then there's also plenty for those requiring repeat listens and a depth of reflection rarely delivered by standard pop.

In short, this album comes very highly recommended. Summer might just start soon if those cracks in the rain clouds are to be trusted, though, so hurry.

Official Site

Phoenix - Countdown
Taken from 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'

Buy it at Insound!

"True and everlasting, it didn't last that long..."

Now playing: Blur - Coffee & TV
via FoxyTunes

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