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The Kickback: Phoenix

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, April 25, 2013


After waiting four years, it’s here. That alone made me nervous. After all, how could you possibly follow up “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” and do so not knowing if lead singer Thomas Mars says “fallen” or “folded” in the hit single “1901?” 

The answer: Bring the energy, which is exactly what Phoenix does with their latest release “Bankrupt!”

Since “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” synths and rock have never sounded as good to me. Still, “Bankrupt!” brings a more intimate, cozy feel, but the catchy melodies may even surpass that of “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.”

The album kicks off with the album’s only single and most Phoenix-of-old sounding song, the buzzing “Entertainment.” But from there, the album and band take an entirely new turn and head for uncharted waters. 

Humming, catchy synths fight past the guitar-groove-dominated past for Phoenix to succeed beyond all belief or expectation. 

To be fair, it’s not the same Phoenix. But the group goes in a different direction and it pays off entirely. 

If you don’t believe me, check out the ever-so catchy “Trying to be Cool,” a feel-good song with sing-along synths and one of the most well crafted Thomas Mars hooks to date. 

And “Chloroform” adds some unique color to the album with a bass backbeat and lurking synth harmonies that is sure to have you rocking back and forth. Meanwhile, “The Real Thing” and “Drakkar Noir” take the layered complexity of “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” the cover-to-cover energy of “It’s Never Been Like That,” and the bounce-along groove of “If I Ever Feel Better” to show the complete, arching growth of the band. 

“Bankrupt!” delivers everything Phoenix fans love about the band, with some new twists. There may not be a”1901.” with Kobe Bryant superstar status, but the album truly excels with all-star performances across the board.