Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Phoenix "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix"
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix ****
A few months ago, the underrated French group, Phoenix, were slated to play Saturday Night Live. Now, it’s nothing new that an indie group would appear at SNL, but Phoenix are not Arcade Fire of Fleet Foxes big. They have a small following, and get the respect they deserve from people. So the surprising inclusion of Phoenix on SNL caused some uproar with all facets of the community, creating conspiracy theories about this happening. Despite this, Phoenix had their moment in the sun. A deserving moment as it is, mainly known as Air’s backing band Phoenix have been living life as a band underappreciated. And this album is their breakthrough for those ear who have been ignoring them for the past decade.
The opening chords of the opener “Lisztomania” have this sound of doe-eyed earnesty that most young bands have, but is something only a band with their talent and experience can do. In a song that doesn’t seem to have ego, it’s generally about rock stardom using the all but true Franz Liszt craze in the 19th century. With the catchy melodies, and Thomas Mars auto-tuned voice, it gives us a great opening to what will be a fun and great album.
Following up is the confident sounding “1901”, beginning with keyboards bursts and continues with Mars’ solid singing and wonderful chorus. Confidence is key on this album, as this band show loads of it on songs like the soft-disco of “Fences”, the M83-esque epic “Love Like a Sunset” and great pop songs like “Rome”, “Countdown (Sick For the Big Sun)” and the album closer “Armistice”, which is armed with a Harpsichord.
The only problem with the album is that is could have been a bit more varied and the album could have been 10, if not 20, minutes longer, because album seems to end just as the party is starting. But it’s not a fatal flaw. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix show us a band brimming with confidence and great pop sensibilities. Hopefully this group of stylish Frenchmen will have their own Phoenixmania over here in the states.