Monday, 22 April 2013

Phoenix: Bankrupt! (review)

And so the new album by Phoenix arrives, Bankrupt! arriving as unquestionably one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

The band have quietly risen to become one of the biggest international acts, French enough to be different, indie enough to be edgy, clever enough to be credible. Sophisticated yet unpretentious.

They're a rock act, who have managed not only to survive but to thrive in an environment that's become increasingly hostile to rock acts in recent years.

Which other acts are they competing against? Coldplay? Stereophonics? The Strokes? They're probably just some of the thousands of bands who wish they were Phoenix right now.

To these ears Chloroform is a highlight, the kind of song that leaves long-term fans nodding their heads happy that the magic not only remains but has if anything been improved on in the years since Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It's also the kind of songs that festival goers unfamiliar with Phoenix will remember as a highlight.

Meanwhile, the rest of the songs have the qualities that are likely to see them embed into your musical dna over a short period of time. In a month or two you'll struggle to remember a time when these songs were not around.

With an album that's been subjected to so much scrutiny and critical speculation before it actually emerges, there's always a risk that it fails to reach expectations, even if its just because the material has been dissected so thoroughly that it seems over-familiar by the time it's released. But no such danger here.

There's not a bad track here in a confident album that both picks up where Phoenix left off and builds on what they've achieved so far.

A recent appearance at California's Coachella festival - featuring a memorable duet with R Kelly at the end of the show - sets the tone for a summer of memorable festival appearances by the band. If you're going to a festival pretty much anywhere this summer, chances are Phoenix are on the bill somewhere near the top.

This is what summer 2013 is going to sound like.

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