Sat, 13 November 2004
by: Madame Hooplah
According to their website (www.wearephoenix.com), French group Phoenix wanted to make a more personal and intimate album than their 2000 debut â€˜Unitedâ€™.
Fair enough, I guess that is whatâ€™s required for artistic growth and maturation. The lyrical content certainly displays some introspection and inspiration. The thing is-youâ€™re too busy tapping your feet to pay much attention to any of that soul searching.
You might remember Phoenixâ€™s single â€˜Too Youngâ€™, an aptly youthful sounding sweet pop tune. Remember the gang at the wharf dancing around in their yellow fishing trousers â€" this may not be the correct term- while a rainbow burst forth from the guitar? Happy Days indeed.
The singles released from Alphabetical have more in common with that sound than the rest of the album. â€˜Everything is everythingâ€™ starts us off in a similar vein with a catchy, poppy, nonsensical chorus and grooving bass line. Unfortunately the line â€œcanâ€™t understand a word, half of the stuff Iâ€™m saying...â€?serves as a bit of a warning for some unintelligible moments. This doesnâ€™t really detract from Thomas Marsâ€™ charm as a vocalist though; he has a sweet, slightly aloof quality that generally compensates well for a lack of warmth in tone.
â€˜Run, run, runâ€™ is a hugely enjoyable track. Impossible not to move at least a little while listening to itsâ€™ reedy, melodic guitar and infectious beat. The video is a winner too, all dark, angled shots of the band punctuated by coloured beams of light.
â€˜Love for grantedâ€™ brings a change in mood with soft, sensitive acoustic guitar and subtle, bassy keyboards. The vocal melody is the main feature here as he sings â€œdonâ€™t tell me about your lies, donâ€™t tell me about your secretsâ€¦â€? making it sound resigned and poignant.
â€˜Victim of the crimeâ€™ is a bit of a weak track, lacking interest but redeemed by some jazzy percussion at the end provided by Alex Locasso.
â€˜(You canâ€™t blame it on) Anybodyâ€™ has a bleak mood (probably that damned introspection again) and opens with some nasty synthesised vocals, but the chorus has some sing-along value. Iâ€™m still wondering if thereâ€™s a bit of glockenspiel going on here and whether that would be a good thing or not.
One of the standout tracks is the title track, sounding a bit like a 70â€™s country tinged ballad delivered without the American macho twang. Thereâ€™s something to be said for a bit of restraint.
This is a slick, smooth album that I really enjoyed. If Phoenix set out to make a mature, thoughtful album they certainly succeeded. Even the weaker moments are so stylish theyâ€™re forgivable. Get your yellow fishing trousers on and have a dance.
by: Madame Hooplah
More articles by Madame Hooplah