Albums2010 #92: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

So, let's talk about Phoenix and their 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. The crazy thing is that despite having never listened to a single Phoenix album in my life, I had probably heard about a third of the songs on this album. I'm not entirely sure whether it's the band or the album, but this is one of those albums where you listen to it and you're immediately like, 'oh yeah, this song.' (Though in this case it was followed by 'I've heard this one before somewhere as well.'

I've come to accept that I'm never going to be one of those music people that lives on the cutting edge of the 'scene' and can write with expert poise and relative ease about albums both large and small, but for me, this album was sort of a revelation in many ways. Reading about the band, it seems my recognition of much of it's contents makes a certain amount of sense: According to that ever present Font of All Knowledge, Wikipedia, Phoenix had three studio albums before this one dropped and Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix marked their mainstream American breakthrough- where they went from being one of those bands that your cool friend who knows all about music likes to listen to, to a band that rubes like me actually have heard of and enjoyed.

The fact that they're French sort of makes sense. The only word that I can think of to describe the entirety of this album is 'cool.' But not 'cool' in the sort of sunglasses and 'trying to hard' way that's so common over here- there's a sort of distant relationship to Daft Punk and their overall sense of style that I think is hard to put a finger on, but still present here. This album is cool in a very Gallic, chill way- similar to what Daft Punk brings to the party.

It's a compact experience, this album- clocking in at just over half an hour, it goes quick. It opens with 'Lisztomania' which is a term coined by German writer Heinrich Heine to describe the massive public response to Franz Liszt and his piano performances- but it's also featured on the soundtrack to Mozart In The Jungle, which is a show that I need to get caught up on!

It's quickly followed by '1901' and 'Fences' (both of which I've heard in one place or another over the years- whether it's a television show soundtrack, movie or just as music on the radio) before launching into 'Love Like A Sunset Parts I and II' The back half of the album starts off with 'Lasso' which is probably the hardest driving song of the album- which is actually a nice change of pace from the relatively chill vibes of the first half. 'Rome' follows that, then 'Countdown', 'Girlfriend' and 'Armistice' round out the album.

Overall: I really liked this album... it was laid back, chill and an awesome ride. Like Future Islands, I think Phoenix is a band that I'm going to have to listen too more often. **** out of ****


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