Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Review: Phoenix, Bankrupt!

Nowadays, this fairly new genre of really upbeat-80s-throwback-pop music is huge.  I think in 20 or so years were going to look back on this the same way as we look back on 80s music now.  There was some that was great, and some that was awful – the awful often dominating the charts.  With electronic music getting bigger and bigger, perhaps this type of pop is the future, rather than just a phase.  If so, kill me now!

The release of Wolfgang Amedeus Phoenix was massive and it was a really great album!  It was a coherent pop album with an original sound and seemingly endless catchy songs.  It was progressive, in terms of the new sound they were developing, and seemed to attract listeners of all different genres.  The songs had quick tempos without sacrificing melody.

With 4 years in the making of their latest release, Bankrupt!, the album was highly anticipated.  Here’s the thing:  When a band has such a great, genre-iconic album like Wolfgang, it’s hard to follow it up with an equally influential album that progresses in the right direction from their previous work.  I think this is really what tests a band and separates the greats, like the Rolling Stones (who successfully did this) and the one-album wonders.  In my opinion, Phoenix has not been able to do this.  Each song on Wolfgang had a memorable hook or aspect of it that made it great.  Bankrupt! just doesn’t consistently have this.  I think that this is because all of the songs on this album are based around the synthesizer or some type of electronic sound; therefore not leaving room for the guitar or bass hooks like on Woflgang.  This being said, there are two songs on this album that really stuck out to me: “Drakkar Noir” and “Chloroform”.  While Drakkar Noir does feature the synthesizer, it actually works well with the melody and vocals – the song is solid.  Chloroform isn’t a hit song by any means, but is has a good sound.  It’s slower than the preceding songs, providing the listener with a well-needed break.

For the electronic sticklers, I can see how this could be perceived as a modern progression from their previous work.  To me, this takes them out of the spotlight and places them back with the endless group of pop/alternative/electronic bands who all have the same sound.  Phoenix, I’m disappointed! 

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