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Phoenix “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

When Phoenix recently performed on Saturday Night Live, there was a general sense of “who are these guys?” and “why are they on SNL?” that wafted out of the uninformed blogosphere (myself included). While the hype surrounding Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix certainly had to have helped the band land the spot, there is so much more to it than that. It’s not simply that they’ve been together for over a decade, but that they’ve been a great source of influence and have their roots firmly planted in the same soil that also sprouted some of France’s finest electronic exports. Phoenix first recorded together when backing a remix of Air’s “Kelly Watch The Stars,” and prior to joining the band, guitarist Laurent Brancowitz played in a short-lived group in the mid-’90s, Darlin’, with Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Shortly after disbanding, that duo went on to form Daft Punk. With such a distinct lineage, it’s no wonder that Phoenix’s electronic influence is still apparent to this day, and no more so than on their new album. Aside from “Lisztomania” (which is effortless in its accessibility and will likely stand as one of the songs of the summer for me), a single thought remained throughout when listening to Wolfgang: had U2 released this record they would be lauded as geniuses. Think about it, all throughout Wolfgang Phoenix (subconsciously) nails exactly what U2 has been lacking for years. A balance between synths and guitar without getting all “Mofo”-y on people: check. A guitarist who isn’t recycling riffs, but rather is working WITH his band to make the music sound more cohesive: check. A rhythm section that isn’t left for dead in the background, but rather one that allows the music to expand by coming to the forefront of the album: check. Lastly, a vocalist whose name isn’t Bono: check. The king is dead, long live Phoenix.

[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]