Apr 172009

“Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” is the fourth album brought to us by French indie rock group Phoenix opens up with “Lisztomania”, which has a sound like that found on their debut “It’s Never Been Like That”; light and pop-influenced vocals coupled with a nice and easy-going indie rock feel. From there the sound begins to grow and develop, as it subtly adds layers of newness as the track list progresses. By the time you are on the second track, you will already have an idea of what Phoenix has in store for you on this installment. The light, ethereal effects on the vocals, the heavily distorted guitar, and the extraterrestrial synths in the background all serve to create a nice introduction to the album. When the falsetto voice of Thomas Mars rings out in the beginning of Fences, you’ll begin to wonder, “Who is it I’m listening to again?”

That’s not to say their new sound is a bad thing. Somehow over the course of the nine song installment Phoenix stays true to their indie roots (that is except for “Love Like a Sunset” which is almost completely instrumental and would sound more at home on a Tiesto album) while adding a smidgeon of very modern-sounding electro influences. The next couple of songs keeps in the same vein and continues to build the structure of this short, but interesting, album. The entire middle portion of “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” feels very new and experimental. It is overall a heavier sound than we’re used to from these guys, but it is done well, and not too over the top.

“Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” begins winding down from the album’s apex in the middle with a song entitled “Rome”, which leans heavily on their original sound again. “Girlfriend”, my personal favorite song, left me feeling a little happy and a little sad at the same time, though I think mostly due to the tone and not the lyrical content. “Armistice” brings the album to a solid close with a welcomed politically charged message. In a day and age when die hard fans often cause an uproar when their favorite bands try something new, it is especially brave for a newer group to put themselves out there like Phoenix did here. The bottom line is if you liked “It’s Never Been Like That”, want something new, and have an open mind, pick up ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’ when it hits shelves May 25th.

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