Review Summary: Phoenix gives listeners more reasons than electronic duos to seek music from France with their funk/pop inspired debut.
Summer is a thing that only comes once a year, but when it is here it can be the best thing ever. For some it means 3 months of limited responsibility and maximized relaxation, highlighted with common things such as hanging out with friends or doing whatever. The point is it takes a band with talent to truly capture a mood or season and put it on a full length. For their debut, French foursome Phoenix have done just that, created an album rich with songs that give off vibes similar to dancing in the summer sun or just watching the sun set in the cool but warm air (cheesy? yeah but the music isn't). To put it simply: the drummer doesn't have a pulse but this work is very much alive.
The first song to really pay attention to is the first track of the whole thing, the introducing "School's Rules". Its just an instrumental, but the way it presents itself as listenable speaks volumes about the whole works. A good way to tell if the band is clicking if the introduction track warrants a listen, or merely warrants not being immediately skipped. Aside from the well done instrumental introductions (all one of them), the mighty features on here is the lack of a bad song. The reward of a short track list, every piece on here serves a specific mood or point and can be done to keep the album from dragging on. For pure pop pleasure that goes at a higher tempo and sung along to at any party, "If I Ever Feel Better" or the album's most popular track, "Too Young" (featured in the film Lost in Translation
) would accent the mood perfectly. On the other side of things, "Embuscade" or "Summer Days" could be the songs played at your prom during the slow dances. Either one of those songs would easily be voted a better tune than K-C & Jojo
's "All My Life" with just about any other song played that night.
Another trait that sets this band apart is that they are not afraid to experiment on their first try. Playing like a feisty rookie out of college; the two minute relatively heavy "Party Time" employs a higher usage of drums and guitars riffz, while still keeping in line with the rest of the songs. Its different in its tone, but similar by keeping the theme of parties coming. The other song that registers from a place way off the map is the over nine minute square dance fueled ballad, "Funky Squaredance". It begins with an out-in-the-country-with-R2D2 moods, you know those old things. From there it works its way across instrumental interludes, gettin' the ol piano out of the attic and to the forefront of the song. What was an abrupt end is now a funky beat in the back of a band/audience interaction, and the song has come full circle switching back to the interlude section. Instead of piano from the attic we get piano played in space and active bass. This song goes through so many transformations its really a love it or hate it song and might influence your overall take of the work. As evidenced by my score of this work, it played out with me the right way (there's even a face melting section); who doesn't like 9+ minutes of space funk and square dancing anyway?
is not for the stone of heart. If you are in some sort of musical drought or even if you're not, this is for you. The lyrics themselves are not as wowing as the music, but when it is this enjoyable and sunny, they don't need to be. It's kinda like the Bears before their match with the Colts; the words in this case are Rex Grossman and United
is one of his best showings.