Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009)

The French are perhaps the least confrontational people on Earth. Everyone who's ever tried to invade France has succeeded admirably - Bismarck, Hitler and Tina Arena all swept through Paris whilst the locals sketched each other half-naked and benefitted from universal health-care.

Phoenix are no different.

They're as non-threatening as Marcel Marceau at the Eurovision Song Contest. They're sugar-coated sponge-rock that leaves you superficially satisfied but softly discontent.

North Korea carried out a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile on Sunday, putting a communications satellite into orbit. The satellite beamed 'The Song of General Kim Jong-Il' back to Earth and infuriated The United States, Japan and South Korea, provoking diplomatic outrage and risking all-out war. If only the "Kwangmyongsong-2" satellite had broadcast Phoenix's 'Lisztomania' instead, we may have already achieved world peace. The first song on Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is pacifying in the extreme. It's sublimely catchy and undeniably loveable. Phillippe Zdar mixes the song like he's making love to an eclair. The arrangement is smooth and velvety and Thomas Mars' vocals buoyant with saccharine air. The hook is syrupy and the chorus insistent. 'Lisztomania' is a flat out 100.

But what of '1901' - the single accompanied by its own neon-attack website and subsequent hype. When I was sent the link to '1901' a few weeks ago, I sat in complete disinterest as electro-soaked rifts washed over me. Mars' vocals are what saves this number. As soon as he begins his triumphant slaughtering of previously accepted conventions of English pronunciation, a sense of Abba-style foreign-ness sends you skywards. I understand every third, maybe fourth word of this song and yet the lyrics speak to me. Mars' almost yodels his way through some of the phrasing, but it works. And when '1901' hits the chorus (fallin', fallin', fallin') its joyous.

The rest is maudlin. 'Fences' is the love-child of MGMT and The Beegees. 'Love Like a Sunset' is painfully drawn out and 'Lasso' saves the second act with toe-tapping francophilia. Mars' asks "where would you go/ where would you go with a lasso?" Its charming nothings like these that erase any sensical meaning from the album.

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is fairy-floss. It's a vacuum in which the only sound that can be heard is sickly-sweet and sometimes sour.

(85 - AI, 79 - SM)

Combined Rating = 79.3


Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

dude! check your lyrics....The band is not singing "fallen, fallen, fallen". Its "fold it, fold it, fold it".
although it does sound as if they are, you should probably make sure your right before you post something.

Anonymous said...


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