It's Never Been Like That



by paperslut USER (19 Reviews)
March 1st, 2007 | 8 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Oh, how we wish we were French!

Phoenix are a French alt-indie band. Phoenix are not Air. Phoenix are not Daft Punk. They're way cooler.

Phoenix are
Thomas Mars (vocals)
Deck D'Arcy (bass)
Laurent Brancowitz (guitars)
Christian Mazzalai (drums)

Given their success with their single Too Young (featured on Shallow Hal and Lost In Translation) and also subsequently the success of the 'other' big French indie act, the pressure on Phoenix to deliver the goods with INBLT was high. The record was apparently recorded by the Versailles foursome at a studio in East Germany. The distance from home has, fortunately for them, paid off.

Mars is careful. The album's not loud. It doesn't beg or shout for your attention. It's brilliant spring listening at its best. The melodies are contemporary and not though it's obvious that Phoenix has tried to loosen up, they're still as intricate as ever. The levels are just right, and there's absolutely not a single wasted note, chord or lyric. It's this amazing economy with music that has Phoenix at its very best. You can just picture them playing for the lazy, beach boy hipsters on a cool, sunny afternoon at the beach.

The pictures are peachy, and it has to do, in part with the fact that Phoenix are a 'happy' band. Even on the seemingly melancholic One Time Too Many where Mars talks about difficult love, they're still bouncing around on a floaty bubble of precocious pop. There's no striking hooks, riffs or anthemic choruses, but enough rhythm, meaning and simplicity to make up for any lack of excitement.

Long Distance Call, the first single of the LP, is a Being John Malkovich song that carries it's weight through the album, but thankfully, is not obviously repetitive. It's the little things that Phoenix has, expectedly, got right. Like the tremolo on the chorus of the single that just takes it one step above whatever it would've been like had it not been there at all. Then there's the thumping bass on Courtesy Laughs that is wonderfully complemented with the rhythm. It's hard to find an error on this record apart from the fact that at about 40 minutes with just 10 tracks, it's too short.

"You know your French well" says Mars on the album opener Napolean Says, complementing your choice on picking up a good record, when in fact, you should complement him on making it.

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user ratings (235)

Comments:Add a Comment 
March 1st 2007


Pretty good review. I have a song by them, 'Everything is Everything', and I liked it a lot back when I first heard it but it annoys me now. I doubt I'll get it.

But Lost in Translation is fucking awesome.

March 1st 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

@ trustx: Thanks. LiT rates among my top 10 films of all time.

Try Long Distance Call, maybe you'll change your mind.

March 1st 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

I love United and have this. Shall give it a shot when I get out of this Air phase.

March 4th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah this is pretty plain, now they're just another indie band.

February 22nd 2010


Not just another indie band, one of the best we have.

August 3rd 2012


Album Rating: 4.0

"Consolation Prizes" is pretty much every song they've ever made. Good thing I like it.

March 1st 2013


Good recs!

June 19th 2017


Album Rating: 3.5

Wow, not really much going on in this thread huh. I had forgotten how much filler there was on the second half of this album - dropping it down a notch to 3.5. Ends incredibly strong on 'Second To None' though.

Hmm I guess that makes Bankrupt! my favourite Phoenix album. I would have sworn it was this.

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