“Think less, but see it grow/ like a riot, like a riot oh!” Phoenix left us in 2009 with a career-making album and a handful of timeless singles, and their absence thankfully hasn’t made the “Listzomania” chorus any less jubilant. With their new album “Bankrupt!” the Frenchmen are minding their words, crafting an album that reads like a victory lap, swapping nimble guitars and cheeky choruses for a stack of anthems enveloped in behemoth synths.
Following solid lead single “Entertainment,” “Bankrupt” takes off with a killer 2-3 punch: the slinky keys of ‘The Real Thing’ laying the groundwork for “SOS in Bel-Air,” the album’s first roundhouse-kicking hit. It’s clear why Phoenix tacked jetplane-takeoff sound effects in front of this song in particular, its effusive shuffle lifting Thomas Mars’ shout-along chorus to “1901” heights.
From there, “Bankrupt!” hits its marks with sonically pristine precision with Phoenix’s characteristically buoyant flair, overcoming a dragging middle section (the overstuffed, nearly 7-minute-long title track ain’t no “Love Like a Sunset”) to power through an excellent closing run of anthemic Technicolor pop, from the suspiciously “Listzomania”-esque drums of “Don’t” through to “Oblique City’s” “Hotel California” referencing riff.
Not every aspect of the “Bankrupt!” shines as bright as Phoenix’s past effort – “Wolfgang’s” sense of eager urgency is dearly missed. But stacking “Bankrupt!” up to its predecessor ignores the album’s status as a culmination, an artifact of the band’s growth from flimsy French pop through Strokes guitar chic through to their new status as squarely modern rock stars who’ve earned the right to take their time.
The blazing return of New York-based art-rockers, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is looming closer and closer on the horizon. “Under the Earth,” the latest single from the upcoming EP, Mosquito (coming out on April 16), is a colorful kaleidoscope of reverb and shouted lyrics that echo endlessly through the track. Lead singer Karen O’s thick, honey-doused vocals sweeten the song, hissing, shouting, and snarling her way through lyrics like “Milk you for what you’re worth/and call it murder.”
The beat hits more on the band’s electro side, foraying into swirling synths, fuzzed out guitar strums, and spiraling strings sections. It’s a welcome sound, that seemingly builds on the soundscape created from 2011’s It’s Blitz, but also taps into the inaugural YYYs sound of 2003 — unrelenting indie rock that is never scared to get weird.
It seems just fifteen minutes ago I was talking about Ms Mr’s Tumblr roll and now they’re on Columbia Records. You know who else just got signed to Columbia Records? Daft Punk. Did you see Ms Mr when they preformed at the Gibson Guitar Showroom last summer? They stole the show from Alex Winston. Did you see them open for Marina and the Diamonds? How about Grouplove? All three of those 9:30 Club shows were Sold Out. It’s no surprise that their song “Bones” turned up in a preview for the season three of Game of Thrones.
The video for “Fantasy”, the first single off their major label debut, Secondhand Rapture, has all the high production flare that comes with being on a major record label. Their tumbles are now concise dark pop anthems with a specific vision. If there is glitter spewing out of the mouths of cheerleaders in their new video, what’s going to happen on this festival stage?
If you’re one of the many people who agree it’s been far too long since 2009’s gigantic Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, take a deep breath and rejoice! The Frenchmen pick right back up with “Entertainment,” the first single off of Bankrupt!, due out on April 22. The synth-driven tune, which combines both alternative and pop appeal brilliantly, is just begging to be bounced around to! It’s the type of song that seems like it’ll translate pretty amazingly on all types of stages, from a small club to a huge arena. Another place it’ll translate well?Their upcoming appearance at the Sweetlife Festival, alongside such crazy-good acts as Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Gary Clark Jr., at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 11th! Grab your ticket today!