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Alternative & Indie - Released May 25, 2009 | Atlantic Records UK

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Realigned with Philippe Zdar, the half of Cassius who mixed United, Phoenix make adjustments on the polarizing characteristics of their second and third albums -- the pokey and occasionally listless Alphabetical, the jagged and tune-deficient It's Never Been Like That -- with some of the most direct and enjoyable songs they've made to date. The two opening songs, the bopping "Lisztomania" and the buzzing "1901," are so immediate and prone to habitual play that the remainder of the album is bound to be neglected. There is plenty to like beyond that point, including "Lasso," which niftily alternates between a tangled rhythm and tight-spiral riffing, and the labyrinthine "Pt. 1" of "Love Like a Sunset," which serves the same purpose as the extended instrumental passages on Roxy Music's Avalon, at least until its rousing conclusion and shift into "Pt. 2." Beyond containing the band's best, most efficient songwriting, the album also stands apart from the first three studio albums by projecting a cool punch that is unforced. Vocalist Thomas Mars, more bright-eyed and youthful than ever, also sounds more a part of these songs, rather than coming across as a protruding element that clashes against the instruments. Maybe they've just hit their stride. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2013 | Atlantic Records UK

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Somewhat sneakily, as they honed their blend of new wave, synth pop, soft rock, and all things '80s for the better part of a decade, Phoenix became one of the most influential acts of the 2000s and 2010s. When they married that distinctive style to some of their strongest songs on 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that album's mainstream success felt like a well-earned reward for their years of defining a sound that had permeated a lot of pop culture. Its follow-up, Bankrupt!, isn't nearly as devoid of new ideas as its title suggests, but it doesn't feel like quite the leap forward Wolfgang was compared to what came before it. Not that it necessarily needs to be; Phoenix sound more comfortable and confident than ever on songs like the lead single, "Entertainment," which defines almost everything that they do on the rest of the album with its galloping beats, earnest vocals, and Asian-tinged keyboard melodies. "Trying to Be Cool," "Don't," and "Oblique City" also carry over the bouncy irresistibility of the band's breakthrough, and even if they don't have the star-making power that "1901" and "Lisztomania" did, they reveal Phoenix's deep love and even deeper knowledge of '80s pop magic in their deft major-to-minor key changes and strategically placed buildups and breakdowns. These little touches help the band stand out among its like-minded contemporaries, and it helps that Phoenix have been drawing inspiration from the '80s longer than that decade actually existed (the fact that they mixed Bankrupt! on the console used in the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller might have contributed some good '80s karma as well). Elsewhere, they pay lip service to another of that decade's icons with "Drakkar Noir," and the way Thomas Mars pronounces it almost makes the overbearing cologne cool again. Here and on "The Real Thing," the band ponders and crosses the line between real and fake, taking it to new levels on "S.O.S. in Bel Air," which could reignite the debate between Strokes and Phoenix fans over who copied who first (and who does it better). Later on, things get interesting -- particularly for longtime fans -- when the band indulges its experimental side on songs like the seven-minute title track, which prefaces Mars' vocals with a lengthy stretch of baroque keyboards, and the expansive melancholy of "Chloroform" and "Bourgeois." Even if moments like these aren't exactly in keeping with the sound that broke Phoenix, they're a reminder that the bandmembers ultimately became popular by being themselves. Bankrupt! lets them celebrate with a victory lap that's enjoyable for all concerned. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 19, 2013 | Atlantic Records UK

Distinctions 4 étoiles Rock and Folk
Somewhat sneakily, as they honed their blend of new wave, synth pop, soft rock, and all things '80s for the better part of a decade, Phoenix became one of the most influential acts of the 2000s and 2010s. When they married that distinctive style to some of their strongest songs on 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, that album's mainstream success felt like a well-earned reward for their years of defining a sound that had permeated a lot of pop culture. Its follow-up, Bankrupt!, isn't nearly as devoid of new ideas as its title suggests, but it doesn't feel like quite the leap forward Wolfgang was compared to what came before it. Not that it necessarily needs to be; Phoenix sound more comfortable and confident than ever on songs like the lead single, "Entertainment," which defines almost everything that they do on the rest of the album with its galloping beats, earnest vocals, and Asian-tinged keyboard melodies. "Trying to Be Cool," "Don't," and "Oblique City" also carry over the bouncy irresistibility of the band's breakthrough, and even if they don't have the star-making power that "1901" and "Lisztomania" did, they reveal Phoenix's deep love and even deeper knowledge of '80s pop magic in their deft major-to-minor key changes and strategically placed buildups and breakdowns. These little touches help the band stand out among its like-minded contemporaries, and it helps that Phoenix have been drawing inspiration from the '80s longer than that decade actually existed (the fact that they mixed Bankrupt! on the console used in the making of Michael Jackson's Thriller might have contributed some good '80s karma as well). Elsewhere, they pay lip service to another of that decade's icons with "Drakkar Noir," and the way Thomas Mars pronounces it almost makes the overbearing cologne cool again. Here and on "The Real Thing," the band ponders and crosses the line between real and fake, taking it to new levels on "S.O.S. in Bel Air," which could reignite the debate between Strokes and Phoenix fans over who copied who first (and who does it better). Later on, things get interesting -- particularly for longtime fans -- when the band indulges its experimental side on songs like the seven-minute title track, which prefaces Mars' vocals with a lengthy stretch of baroque keyboards, and the expansive melancholy of "Chloroform" and "Bourgeois." Even if moments like these aren't exactly in keeping with the sound that broke Phoenix, they're a reminder that the bandmembers ultimately became popular by being themselves. Bankrupt! lets them celebrate with a victory lap that's enjoyable for all concerned. © Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released June 13, 2000 | Parlophone (France)

On their debut album for Astralwerks/Source, Phoenix applies a slick electronica aesthetic to traditional pop/rock songwriting, resulting in a quite adventurous album capable of re-organizing perceptions about 1980s-style verse-chorus-verse guitar pop. Of course, the fact that the group members come from France gives them the necessary perspective on commercial American pop/rock from the past. With this perspective, they bring fresh life to something that grew stale fast, primarily with their textural approach to songwriting. For instance, the catchy vocal hook from "Too Young" seems far too melodic for its own good, mostly from the pristine production that brings an uncanny gleam to Thomas Mars' already warm voice. Furthermore, one can pick pretty much any instrument in any given song and appreciate the way the sounds come alive in ways that few pop/rock songs are capable of: the percussion gently rattles far too crisply, the bass guitar sounds more like a house bassline than an actual guitar riff, and the subtle guitar sounds seem just too little like the oft-stale sounds that have been associated with guitars over the years. In sum, the album sounds great, but the allure goes deeper than just production. The band understands how to write catchy songs that manage to retain an innocent aura of simplicity and accessibility without coming off contrived. To just think of United as an album of slick pop/rock postmodernism would be cheapening; think of the album as an uncanny yet earnest showcase of what makes pop/rock pop without the gaudy trendiness that now makes the 1980s seem so distasteful. © Jason Birchmeier /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 22, 2004 | Parlophone (France)

Alphabetical is Phoenix's second album, trailing their debut by nearly four years. It's much less of a mishmash than its predecessor, basing itself around the group's soft, cunningly arranged pop that occasionally reaches beyond '70s AM and '80s sophisti-pop to slip in discreet traces of hip-hop. During their time away, Phoenix became much more proficient as synthesists; certain moments on 2000's United seemed to signal, "Here's where we declare our love of country music," or "Here's the song where we try to sound exactly like Todd Rundgren." This issue has been fixed; the seams that bind their inspirations are now less visible. They're also much better songwriters now, but the lack of variation -- in tempo and in sound -- nearly wipes out the positives by leaving the album with a sluggishness. It's particularly troublesome if you're not in a very specific mood (not simply laid-back, but a kind of laid-back) and want to stay there for the duration of the listen. The album would've benefited from a song or two with the vigor of United's "Too Young" and "If I Ever Feel Better" to break up the monotony; and tracks three through 11 are nowhere near the high level of tracks one and two, making the album drag all the more as it plays out. If not a qualified across-the-board improvement, Alphabetical is at least a good record by a group with plenty of unrealized potential. Perhaps they should stick to singles. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 12, 2006 | Parlophone (France)

After avoiding the sophomore slump with relative ease, Phoenix return with their third release stripped of the post-disco house sound that helped to define them, focusing more on the songwriting side of things than any sort of dancefloor-focused groove. In fact, it takes until the fourth song, "Long Distance Call," for anything resembling a dancefloor beat to appear, and when it does it feels like an epilogue to the wonderful "If I Ever Feel Better" off the group's debut record. The band has definitely learned a thing or two through its evolution, placing more of an emphasis on guitar than before (Laurent Brancowitz and Christian Mazzalai sound as if they've been in the woodshed studying the chops of Johnny Marr and the twin-guitar attack of the Strokes' last few records), and their performances sound more confident than ever. Gone are the sluggish country-infused downtempo numbers, replaced with a more even-keeled track sequencing and tempo throughout -- almost as if they've been able to focus on the things that make the band so engaging to begin with, monopolize on them, and move forward in a refreshing and vibrant direction. © Rob Theakston /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 4, 2015 | Atlantic Records UK

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 19, 2020 | Glassnote Entertainment Group LLC

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Rock - Released February 28, 2003 | Parlophone (France)

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 18, 2017 | Atlantic Records UK

In 2013, after the intergalactic success of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Phoenix four shrugged off the pressure that came with their new-found pop expert status. With Bankrupt !, the fifth album produced by Philippe Zdar, the Versailles gang dived into a sea of synths, letting the guitars off the hook somewhat. The very eighties flavour of the pieces, a little bit Bowie/a little bit Prince, doesn't mean they feel any less contemporary. With Ti Amo, Thomas Mars's band has created a sunnier record than ever before. With its cheesy micro synth (the title sets the tone), its sugary pop choruses, its shades of ItaloDisco, its cosmopolitan lyrics and its funky rhythms, this latest release from Phoenix looks set to provide the soundtrack to summer 2017. But for all that, behind the joyous, hedonistic facade, the group retains a sense that the world is in trouble. From the off, this is an album which will work wonders for body and soul. © MD/Qobuz
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Rock - Released July 2, 2004 | Parlophone (France)

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 22, 2013 | Atlantic Records UK

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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | Electrecord.com

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Folk - Released January 1, 2008 | Electrecord.com

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Folk - Released January 1, 1999 | Electrecord.com

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Rock - Released August 14, 2009 | Parlophone (France)

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Pop - Released April 5, 2004 | Parlophone (France)

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 2, 2017 | Atlantic Records UK

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 27, 2017 | Atlantic Records UK

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Rock - Released February 28, 2003 | Parlophone (France)