The album is brilliantly bolstered by the lead singles "Lisztomania" and "1901," the first and second tracks of the album, coincidentally (well, not really -- they are the album's best songs by far). "Lisztomania" kicks things off with an innocent guitar riff, ceding to a funkier one -- compliments of Laurent Brancowitz, one time member of the band/project Darlin', a band that featured two young Frechmen named Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Cristo. Why bring those two up if they aren't in Phoenix? Well, they eventually went on to form this funky little electronic duo named Daft Punk -- maybe you've heard of them?
Brancowitz is the cornerstone of the band, along with Thomas Mars' vocals. The two are what have kept them funky and indie rock-tastic throughout their career. I remember when I came across the song "Too Young" from their debut album United. It hooked me immediately and it made me yearn for even more of whatever it is Phoenix was putting down. Unfortunately, I would have to wait a few years for 2004's Alphabetical, but the experience was well worth the wait. That album was a brilliant follow-up to United, and it showed how the band recognized the power of their funky indie rock appeal.
2006 saw the band's best album to date, It's Never Been Like That. I may a bit biased, but It's Never Been Like That is an incredibly tight and cohesive album that one can listen to the whole way through without skipping a slow, clunky track -- there simply are none. I was lucky enough to see them perform at Coachella that year, and their set still remains one of my favorites from my four years at the festival.
And now we have Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, a bit of a different direction for the band, as evidence by the instrumental track "Love Like a Sunset Part I." They tried the same thing on It's Never Been Like That with the track "North," and that worked to perfection. "Love Like a Sunset" seems a bit out of place, given the rollicking good time provided by the following track "Lasso." Both halves of the album are balanced out quite nicely by solid songs, with the first half edging out the last thanks to the aforementioned "1901" and "Lisztomania." The songs "Girlfriend" and "Fences" show off Mars' delightful singing style, helping round out another solid offering by one of indie rock's most dependable bands. Phoenix has outdone themselves on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and we, as fans and listeners, are the beneficiaries.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is out today on Glass Note Records.
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Check out the band's pretty well-put together myspace at myspace.com/wearephoenix
Please enjoy the video for the forthcoming single "Lisztomania:"