Essentially, the record finds Phoenix doing what they do supremely well – danceable indie-pop with touches of shoegaze guitar and ambient electro.
Alongside Air and Daft Punk (both of whom they have strong links with), Phoenix were part of the great flowering of French musical talent that took place in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Although a more rock-orientated proposition than either of the aforementioned groups, Phoenix do share with them a certain dreamy, ethereal aesthetic, as well as a healthy sense of humour.
However, unlike Air and Daft Punk, Phoenix have yet to have a hit record, or indeed make much impact beyond indie circles (although they did feature on the excellent soundtrack of Lost In Translation, and frontman Thomas Mars subsequently became the partner of the film’s director, Sofia Coppola). Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is unlikely to take the band overground either, but it is a very enjoyable album.
Essentially, the record finds Phoenix doing what they do supremely well – danceable indie-pop with touches of shoegaze guitar and ambient electro. The likes of ‘Lisztomania’ and ‘1901’ are built around irresistible grooves, while ‘Fences’ skilfully merges a melancholy vocal with a swinging beat.
The highlight, though, is the rather wonderfully titled two-part suite ‘Love Like A Sunset’; the first section builds from a downtempo beginning into a Neu!-like motorik groove, while the second installment – reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Sometimes’ – sees Mars singing plaintively over a soundscape of acoustic guitar and buzzing distortion.
A couple more killer tunes and this album would have been something very special indeed. Nonetheless, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix should find considerable favour with fans of stylish and imaginative guitar-pop.
Key track: ‘Love Like A Sunset Part 1’
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