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[Indie Pop]

Phoenix

Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

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Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Annie Zaleski

Oddly, Phoenix made an April appearance on Saturday Night Live. Though they have released three albums full of kicky electro-funk-rock and have ties to France’s elite electronic acts—guitarist Laurent Brancowitz once played in a band with pals who later formed Daft Punk; Phoenix helped back Air on Moon Safari—the Parisians aren’t household names in America. But Phoenix’s stellar fourth LP, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, should help raise its profile here in the States.

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Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Four stars
Beyond the Weekly
Phoenix

The quartet downplays its space-funk tendencies, which often made its songs sound lightweight, in favor of a more traditional guitar-rock sound rooted in Brit-pop, indie and new wave. Yet these familiar tropes don’t sound tired: “Lasso” is a bouncy, danceable post-punk song with spiky riffs; the piano-buoyed “Lisztomania” is a Spoon-on-Prozac romp; and the lush disco-rock gem “Fences” features a midnight-hued bassline and seedy discotheque beats. Better is the single “1901,” which features ’70s-era FM-radio riffs and vocalist Thomas Mars as a dead ringer for Of Montreal vocalist Kevin Barnes (specifically, his falsetto cadences and glam monotone). But even Wolfgang’s curveballs—in particular, the seven-minute Kraut-rock electro drone “Love Like a Sunset”—feel revitalized, creative and fun. Vive la France!

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