I’m an angry old rock fan in my mid 30s. So it makes sense that I would have revolted against the influx of soft, precious and twee farts that pass for rock these days. But then, I finally gave bands like Vampire Weekend a chance, and realised that much like any genre, this new wave of twee, preciousness is good when it’s good and bad when it’s bad. So, does Phoenix do it good or bad? I’m about to find out, with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix.
On a level of 1 to Big Bang Theory, how incredibly lame is it that I’ve never heard any music from this uber hip band, yet as it opened with Lisztomania, I immediateoly liked it because it sounds exactly like the theme song from the sitcom version of About a Boy? That’s pretty lame, right? Cool song though, in the precious, twee way that is generally pretty polarising to my ears. Also, someone from either Phoenix or whoever wrote the About a Boy song needs to file a plagiarism suit if they haven’t already.
Next up is 1901. It takes the twee preciousness, adds to it by doubling down on the poppy synths, and yet still refuses to be shit. How can this band take my dream journal, use everything I’ve ever said I hate about modern pop/rock, and keep turning into something I can’t help liking?
Falsetto, disco like vocals and church organ on Fences? You magnificent bastards, Phoenix, you’ve done it again. And Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix keeps taking potential musical aids and turning it into lemonades (full disclosure, that joke is paraphrased from and old Sarah Silverman gag).
The first letdown comes with Love Like a Sunset Part II. It’s rambling, and aimless, and pointless. The only reason it’s the first letdown, is because the preceding Love Like a Sunset Part II isn’t even enough of an entity to count as a song. It’s just a band having a musical circle jerk where no one gets a happy ending.
Lasso brings back all of the pop, gentle, jangly guitar elements I liked bout the first half of this album, but the Sunset duo sucked so much life out of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that’s there’s no momentum. Lasso is fine, but it’s a cold start that struggles to get the album moving again.
And that’s kind of the rest of the album. Rome, Countdown and Girlfriend are all pretty cool songs. And they’re all in the same vein of what made me really enjoy the first half of the album. But the seven or eight minutes of the middle pair is just such a speed bump, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix never fully recovers. It does finish on a real high though.
Armistice is the perfect ending to remind me about how good Phoenix are when they’re good. So, I guess I will love this album, if I can ever forget that the Love Like a Sunset suite exists.