Review: Phoenix – Bankrupt!
Published on April 27th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Les Versaillaises go from strength to strength on their fifth album Bankrupt!, which creatively is anything but. Phoenix represent the rarity that is superior indie disco; as in, you could imagine it being played at one, but it’s not a procession of clichés and producer’s suggestions (“Hey guys, why don’t you try doing that bit in double time?”) that makes you want to start burning things.
Quite the opposite: it’s wondrous stuff, steeped in luxuriant and ingenious flashes of lateral thinking without conceding pop ground.
Opener “Entertainment” provides as much with its gurgling synth bass and flurry of plastic strings, proving sufficiently stirring and melodically sharp/sharply melodic to stave off any notions of “same old Phoenix”. There’s even a touch of Mew about “The Real Thing”, while the title track guides a zippy, twinkling instrumental into splendorous waves of ravey string sounds incorporating an agreeable acoustic strum.
Elsewhere we get colourful, blaring electro-power-pop jam-packed with crowning songwriting features, like a more sophisticated Passion Pit, or even – as on tremendous, tangential closer “Oblique City” – like a cross between Tame Impala and vintage of Montreal.
Lyrically the album is not particularly inspiring, but there’s more than enough of interest going on elsewhere for this to not really matter as much as it might have done in lesser musical hands. The back-to-back “Chloroform” and “Don’t” exhibit, respectively, Phoenix’s ability to construct gorgeous processions out of digital string sections and their knack for rendering them compellingly disorientingly, features that place them quite resoundingly ahead of the majority of their peers. Five albums in, that’s no mean feat.
In short, Bankrupt! is a succinct, ten-track album’s worth of the most bang-up and up-to-date pop music you’ll hear all year; and, fingers crossed, just in time for summer, too.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!