Review: Phoenix Embrace Mellow Seventies Sunshine on ‘Ti Amo’

Review: Phoenix Embrace Mellow Seventies Sunshine on ‘Ti Amo’

Thursday, 08 June 2017
This post was originally published on this site

The biggest and best French rock band ever has proved that you can still go pop on the strength of cagey songcraft and retro-rock sophistication. “Champagne or prosecco?” frontman Thomas Mars offers over a New Wave mirror-ball glide on the title track of their sixth LP, before dropping references to the Buzzcocks, soft rock and that venerable old-school smoothie Beethoven.

Phoenix’s 2013 LP Bankrupt! seemed to pull back a bit from the spit-polished bounce of their wondrous surprise hits “1901” and “Lisztomania.” This time out, they’re heavy into mellow Seventies sunshine, with major ELO/10cc/Steely Dan overtones. “J-Boy” is posh, pouty disco kicks impacted with lyrics about lovers like “kamikazes in a hopeless world.” And “Fior Di Latte” is sad-hearted yacht-soul splendor. Phoenix are at their most fun when they’re writing in the margins of pop history: The glowing electro ballad “Lovelife” is the AM radio smash Kraftwerk never had, while “Telefono” suggests the Doobie Brothers as indie-pop Continentals. Even when you can’t tell what Mars is singing about (which is a lot), the music radiates a suave majesty that feels universal. 


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