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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Loyaute)

Phoenix are a band from France. They make dance music. But they don’t sound like Daft Punk. Well, not much anyway. It’s because of the guitars.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is definitely their best album, but the others were all pretty mediocre. I know it’s their best album because they didn’t lose my attention by the end of the fourth song. By that stage on any of their three earlier efforts I’d have long since put on something else. Sure, they’ve had some pretty good dance singles. For example, try putting on ‘Too Young’ (off their first album, United) at a party some time, that shit goes off! ‘Lisztomania’, the first track on Wolfgang is just about a match for ‘Too Young,’ in that it’s got one of their trademark percolating guitar riffs cycling round and round, allowing singer Thomas Mars to get away with doing his oh-so-affected French loverboy thing over the top. This formula gets reworked with minor variations on almost all of the album’s tracks. It really shouldn’t work (it certainly didn’t on their other albums), but for some reason they manage to more or less pull it off on Wolfgang. I would put this down to a more consistent batch of songs, as well as to a renewed focus on percussion, a component that is particularly important in music with dance aspirations.

I had never really noticed the drums getting up to much on their earlier efforts, but it sounds like this time Phoenix really managed to get their drummer to push things along with some proper propulsive 4/4 force. Meanwhile, the seven minute ‘risk’ track, ‘Love Like A Sunset,’ somehow manages to slip by without its ‘I’m going to emote over a slowly strummed acoustic under a summer sunset’ shtick messing everything up. The highlight of the album is ‘Lasso,’ whose simple, but well deployed, guitar riff pushes Mars’ enthusiastic chorus vocal straight into the aural erogenous zone (with predictably gooey but fun results). You pretty much know what you are going to get with an album like Wolfgang: hips, licks, synths, riffs and a shameless, love obsessed, party attitude. If I had to be precise about how to best listen to this album I would suggest using it as a kind of bridging mechanism on a house party soundtrack. Try it after the standard indie pop fair, but before the Human League dance remix, and might you get some decent results.


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  1. James Beavis says:

    Compressed synths + singalong high notes = 1901 <3 <3 FOREVER

  2. Al Gangbang says:

    Maybe from now on you can submit fingerpaintings to achieve a new level of sophistication.

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