Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Record Label: Glassnote Records
Release Date: May 25th 2009
French indie-rock quartet Phoenix is one of the first indie bands I had ever heard of, especially in 2009, when fourth record Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was released by the band. This spawned the chart topping single “1901” that most people know, and really is their most popular song. I’ve been meaning to get into this band for a long time, and since the band has a new record coming out, I figured it was time to really delve into this record, because I enjoy the track “1901” immensely, and now that I’ve finally listened to the whole record, it really makes me excited for the band’s new record Bankrupt!, which is being released in April. The best part of this record is that every song on here doesn’t sound like “1901,” which is very nice, honestly. I wouldn’t expect that, but I’m glad this band actually employs a lot of diversity, even if it doesn’t stray too far off. “1901” is a very interesting track, because it’s indie-pop at its finest; very catchy and infectious synths throughout very interesting and engaging lyrics being sung by a vocalist with a very unique voice. That’s what made me very interested in this band, and now that I have the chance, I decided to take it, as well as take a look (and listen) at this record to get myself prepared for Bankrupt. In all honesty, this is a very enjoyable indie-pop / indie-rock record that ever so slightly pushes the envelope a little bit. This is a rather ambitious record, and I really like that about it. It’s certainly not the best record I’ve ever heard, and there are a few things that I don’t particularly enjoy, but those little things don’t hinder my enjoyment of it at all, really. With that being said, let’s dive into this record, shall we?
The record begins with “Lisztomania,” and this is a nice opening track; it sets the stage for the whole record, because this track is really catchy indie-pop with traces of electronic and new wave music. And that’s really how the whole record is. There are some very interesting and unique moments, and they show up in a lot of the songs, which is really nice to see. “Lisztomania” is a very enjoyable song, and it does its job for an opening track, but it’s not my favorite, either. With that being said, second track “1901” is my favorite track, hands down. This is the essential Phoenix song. It’s got a very memorable synth riff throughout the song, and a very memorable and catchy chorus that can get stuck in your head if you’re not careful. The most interesting moments on this record come in the form of songs “Love Like a Sunset Part I,” and then “Part II” right after; the former is a six-minute indie-pop instrumental piece, and it’s a really nice track. It doesn’t drag on whatsoever, and it leads right into the second part, which is only 2 minutes, but does feature some singing towards the very end. Essentially, it feels like a two-part interlude, and I really like that. It works very well, because it does not slow the record down whatsoever. Right after that, sixth track “Lasso” isn’t too interesting musically, but lyrically, it’s got really interesting lyrics that are about, you guessed it, a lasso. The next few songs after this don’t really do a lot for me, surprisingly. “Rome” isn’t a terrible track, and while it does have interesting synth towards the end, it doesn’t do a lot for me. “Countdown” is a more straightforward indie-rock track, which is definitely different from the rest of the record, but not very far. It doesn’t stray too far from the rest of it, but again, it does not do a lot for me. In fact, most of the last third of the record is enjoyable, but doesn’t do much for me as a whole. It almost falls to the wayside, really. The same goes for next track “Girlfriend.” This is an enjoyable track, but as a whole, it doesn’t really do a lot. The first half of the record is really enjoyable, but once you get past the “Love Like a Sunset” songs, it slips a bit, and doesn’t recover. Last track “Armistice” has a really cool title, because an armistice refers to an ending, essentially, and that’s what this song serves as. It’s not the best song on the record, and doesn’t really do anything different from it, but it works nicely as an ending track.
After listening to this record a few times, I have a love/hate relationship with it. Well, to put it simply, I don’t hate this record, and in fact, I do enjoy it, but the last third kind of slips a bit, sadly. The “hate” comes into play with that, specifically. It sounds a bit derivative and generic after a certain point, which can be a major flaw sometimes. Not always, but sometimes, it can be. In this case, it kind of is. Usually, records only have a couple songs that don’t do a lot for me, but this one has a lot, and it’s not a good thing. It’s not terrible, by any means, but there aren’t too many truly memorable songs on here. They try some interesting thing, but overall, it just goes in one ear, and out the other. With that all being said, this record is worth listening to, especially if you’re a fan of indie-pop or indie-rock. They do have a new record coming out in April, so I am excited for that, and maybe it’ll be more memorable than this.