Phoenix Returns with "Bankrupt!"
Bankrupt! is the fifth studio album by the French alternative rock band Phoenix. The album was released internationally by V2 records on Tuesday, April 23rd.
It's surprising that a band like Phoenix made it big in the U.S. In the past, European acts like Abba have tried to sound as Anglo-American as possible, but this French indie-pop band pulled off a huge stateside breakthrough by sticking to their own roots. In 2009, their fourth LP Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix stormed the nation with it's sublime songs about old-world Europe like "Lisztomania" and "1901." The reason Phoenix was able to succeed was because they mastered how to balance Seventies Rock and Eighties New Wave with a 21st-century elegance and timeless sophistication.
Like their first successful album, Bankrupt! is incredibly colorful with lots of astral-planing synths, wry guitar, and pillow-pump drums. Thomas Mars' vocals complete all their tracks whether it be the up-beat "Don't" with it's happy-go-lucky feel, or the more soulful "Chloroform." Unfortunately, fans who were expecting new hits like their favorite "Lisztomania" will be rather disappointed. The band took a more posh indie sound for this album, straying away from their loved pop tunes. They set a more emotional tone, setting a deeper mood than the fun dance tunes they presented in their previous album.
The first single "Entertainment" opens with a Japanese keyboard melody and a tom-tom rush, which sounds fun at first, but is suddenly turned off with Mars' lyric, "Loud volume turned to low low low." "Bankrupt" is a seven minute track with ambient drift created with lounge-like keyboards and pretty moody, negative lyrics.
("Entertainment" music video)
In my opinion, the band lost its catchy charm with this album, so it's doubtful that fans here in the States will be satisfied. Between the funkier tunes and distressful lyrics, it will be interesting to see people's reactions to this album as the ratings start to surface. At least one magazine, Time, seems to agree with what I've said.