Friday, 22 February 2013

Track Review: Phoenix - Entertainment

Four years. That's the length I, and countless more, have been working through to see how French foursome Phoenix follow up the outstanding 2009 Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It's one of the more personal choices I've taken to see the sight of, so it's no surprise I look upon the details of Phoenix's fifth album, Bankrupt! and came away from it both interested and excited. Described by the band themselves as a more experimental record than their previous offering, Pheonix take the brave and bold decision in unveiling their first track off the 10-track record as literally that, track one and the first we'll hear from Bankrupt! Entertainment then, has something of a heightened responsibility to both the established fanbase and those who may come to this as the first ever listen and stand fairly uncertain on what Phoenix have to offer us. Thankfully, both camps will come away from this offering pleasantly surprised by such an experimental tag.

So what's this, Oriental chimes? In a Phoenix song? Well, from what the first few seconds suggest, it appears the Fab French Foursome have turned their pop compass east in their new offering. In actuality, it's a mere buzz and flicker of eastern vacation - the track soon roaring to life with the track's wall of sound guitars and sugary energized drumbeats. A familiar sound for avid Phoenix fans, and yet the bursting cry of high-pitch chimes gives the music an extra level of UMPH and the song is straight-away sun-in-your eyes glazing with life. And even after four long years away from the studio microphone,vocalist Thomas Mars is as fresh and rejuvenating in his youthful flurry of vocals. 'Headline from this day on/Why you keep pretending that you wanna let go?' Mars utters amid a plush plucking of guitar strings - damn it, another artist who can read my mind. Everything that Phoenix were, and still are, is here: the buttery spread of guitars, the playful drum patterns, Mars' romanticist lyrics heightened by his honest bare-bone truth, 'Show them what you do with me/When everyone here knows better'.

The growing shimmer of 80s synths alongside the continuing eye-blinding glare of organ-like chimes leaves no room for this track to lay down and recline. It's all energized hard-work but despite this, the track doesn't come across as deliberately shot-up or distracting us from anything we may be mislead to avoid. Phoenix, are by any standard, an honest and honestly care-free band making care-free, honest music. And Entertainment shows that not only do they remain fresh and lively in the noughties, but can take an experimental approach and craft it in such a way differentiation from the norm feels more familiar than the norm itself. How will the other nine tracks follow on from such a killer opening? Time will tell. Bankrupt! is out 22nd April on V2 Records. In the meantime, enjoy this well-done and pleasantly neon-glowing lyric video (in original quality no less).

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