Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pheonix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

When you think of the music of France, what's the first word - or rather genre - that comes to mind? Is it the traditionalist folk of pre-20th century. Or could it be the multitude of tags ending in the word 'House' of post-20th century? Regardless of where your music knowledge and preferences lay, we can all agree that France has contributed more than its fair share to the overall 'scape of sensically-arranged sounds and noises.

One genre you may not (at first) identify with the western-European country in question is either pop or rock music. So when in 2000, a four-piece band by the name of Phoenix emerged, blending the two tags together so whimsically, it was going to be an intriguing sight as to how the French would convey this. Fast-forward 9 years and we have before us their forth studio album, the unambiguously-titled 'Wolfgang Amadeus Pheonix'.

Phoenix have shown that despite composing albums of varying track-lengths and structure, their signature optimistic blend of alternative rock and dream pop has failed to provide anything short of a success.
Wolfgang, in result, is a culmination of a nearly decade's experience in this field. The album's opener 'Liztomania' is typical of Phoenix's signature sound - dreamy lyrics floating above feet-tapping guitars and low-hitting drumbeats. Indeed, vocalist Thomas Mars' voice stands out tremendously as it sways to and fro, '1901' providing even more light-hearted emphasis behind an electronic fuzz. And on 'Fences', Mars demonstrates this to an amazing extent.

Even without vocals, the band continue to demonstrate a key understanding in rhythm on the album's doubt-less highlighter, 'Love Like A Sunset', a true testament to Pheonix' conveyance of pop rock at its purest and rawest form. Bright monotonous keys give way to patterns of guitars and drums as the song continues to kick up in gear, eventually breaking out into its signature pattern. Before long, Mars reintroduces himself to the listener before the flutter of guitar strings fizzle out.

'Lasso' continues on where the first half of Wolfgang... left off - Mars extending his straight-forward optimistically-charged tone into the heart of the song, where the instrumental plucks of strings and beat of drums on 'Rome' and 'Girlfriend' remind us time and time again of its crucial role in Phoenix's melodic charm over its listeners.

In 'United' & 'It's Never Been Like That', Phoenix demonstrated how such simple and charmingly clever song structures could strike a chord in such little time. On Wolfgang... the four-piece have clearly succeeded in cementing their status as one of the most intriguing and crucial French acts to emerge in the past ten years. And if their status as a fortified band to love isn't enough, they truly have proven one thing with this outing...the almighty fusion of alternate-dream-synth-pop-rock is here to stay.