Phoenix's 2009 album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, was a commercial and critical hit. It brought the French band to the world stage. This year, fresh off a headlining spot at Coachella, they keep up the pace with the release of Bankrupt! The title suggests they have depleted their sound after ten years of putting out inspired albums, but that is far from the truth. Sounds have changed from the pure daydream French pop rock to a mass-market indie band groove that even hipsters dig.
If you are weary of their follow-up, the opening track, "Entertainment," has a Kung Fu–grip keyboard riff that will psych you up for the rest of the album, even if you don't want to instantly feel connected. "SOS in Bel Air" is what you expect from Phoenix — peppy, sunny-time fun vibes. The lyric, "Put my name on your list/ S.O.S. in Bel Air" is delivered in such a casually catchy way, it makes the song perfect for happy-hour sing-alongs.
The deep-synth hooks mixed with singer Thomas Mars's low-key croon on "Trying to Be Cool" sounds like the soundtrack to that guy that is actually trying really hard to be cool. How they nailed that sound of suave desperation is beyond me. The album is a cohesive piece, sticking true to the "Phoenix sound" of playing it safe while delivering something refreshing. (Bonus points for having a track titled "Drakkar Noir.")
- Album: Bankrupt!
- Artist: Phoenix
- Label: LoyautÄ
- Songs: (1) "Entertainment" (2) "The Real Thing" (3) "S.O.S. in Bel Air" (4) "Trying to Be Cool" (5) "Bankrupt!" (6) "Drakkar Noir" (7) "Chloroform" (8) "Don't" (9) "Bourgeois" (10) "Oblique City"