Single Review – Phoenix – Ti Amo

Phoenix take a universal approach to their latest and vivacious single Ti Amo, which confesses Thomas Mars’ love in a multitude of languages. Accompanied by bubbly beat, heavily reliant on a thumping bass that recalls an amplified version of If I ever feel better, the summer-y sounding track has strong roots in a funky ambience that strays from the heavier synth-rock journeyings of 2014’s Bankrupt. An infectious chorus paired with a chilled computerised beat makes for a staple holiday playlist addition, and confirms that Phoenix can master electro-pop from all angles. The new album – also called Ti Amo – promises a similar sunny effervescence, and drops in June.

Ellie Chivers

Phoenix – Bankrupt! Review

So as 2012 turned into 2013; so did the speculation and anticipation for Bankrupt (with a !) from Phoenix who often seemed to be labelled as the ultimate ‘indie’ band but in this day and age i’m not sure if that’s a compliment or an insult anymore… This speculation for the album Bankrupt was justified when everyone caught sound of their first single from the album: ‘Entertainment’. It came to blow a synthsiser shaped hole through you’re mind with it’s catchy synth driven sound and energetic drums in the chorus and the muted plucked guitar strings and deep electro bass sound of the verses. The balance between the raging electo of the chorus and the more considered but still darn catchy verses and bridged excellently with a build up of synthesisers to ease the listener into the chorus with little effort. All this is complimented by Thomas Mars and his slightly naive vocal style brilliantly. Even the weird singing along with the song towards the end just seems to work as the the synth sounds and drum beats culminate into a finale. All in all the song is a polished piece of flawless retro synth pop and when it takes you that long to describe it then you know it’s pretty good. Their next single ‘Trying To Be Cool’ has a neat little synth tingle and handclap intro that flows into a song that’s driven by a basic bass and rythm section with a subtle keyboard sneaking in at the background. A subtle synth tune provides the hook in the chorus in what is still a pretty catchy piece of retro pop but just not in fast forward mode like ‘Entertainment’. The synth sound works in conjunction with mini guitar riffs that builds up to lead out of the chorus and back into the verses. Again the vocals just work well and it sounds like Thomas was almost born to sing the words ‘trying to be cool’ and so while at a different level, it’s another great tune that perhaps while not being as strong and as in yer face as ‘Entertainment’; it certainly holds it’s own as a decent song.

Oh if only the rest of the album was like this… Firstly with songs such as ‘The Real Thing’ the instrumentals and the vocals don’t gel at all. Certainly not in the way they had with the other two songs I talked about. The title track is a minimalistic one that’s supposed to act as a breather but in that sense while trying to be minimalistic it makes little sense and the subtle synth sounds have little direction or purpose at all. You can still have a minimalistic sound and have a song with a purpose! Other songs like the final track ‘Oblique City’ seem to go too far with the retro synthpop that it’s like being locked in a time machine on a one way ticket to 1986 and goes beyond being sleek and polished nicley to being plastic and a little tacky. It could easily qualify as a Eurovision entry. Perhaps one of the few moments that the excellence of the singles is replicated in the rest of the album is with ‘Drakkar Noir’ but all in all the French quartet from Versailles failed to deliver on the anticipation of the album as a whole and became rather bland and tasteless at certain points and it’s a real shame as they really showcase their ability in the songs ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Trying To Be Cool’ and while the album can’t be filled with other versions of these songs it could still have the effortless application they had and for me that’s where the album is lacking primarily. In other areas it’s like they are trying to induce us all into an 80’s synth coma which seems in part an attempt to make up for the dull tunes inbetween.

Phoenix – Bankrupt! = 6/10

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