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It's Never Been Like That

34 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 23, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Having established themselves as both media darlings and favorites with alternative music fans everywhere, Phoenix continue their genre-hopping explorations with their third and most direct album to date. It's Never Been Like That features ten perfectly crafted soulful rock songs with a hint of Americana and the occasional nod to the '80s-inflected stylings of their 2000 debut United. Phoenix will be devoting plenty of time to their American release campaign including tour dates, advance press, online and radio promotions with the additional benefit of an artist development list price.

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Warning: Even limited exposure to this French band's music is liable to turn the listener into a crazed zealot desperate to "just turn people on" to their music or to wander about aimlessly wondering aloud why they're not at least as well known as, say, Erlend Oye. The band's been relentlessly eclectic since they formed in the late '90s; they make hybrid music, an electronic-flavored rock that's impossible to describe without using up half a dozen hyphens in the process. It's their most straight-ahead, "rock"-sounding release, and if your first thought is that it wouldn't hurt if It's Never Been Like That had a little bit more of a cocaine disco unicorn vibe to it, give it another listen. This record is an effortless-sounding, mini-masterpiece that mixes art song elements with delightful retro-pop. And it's scary how simply and truly great it is--easily amongst the best albums of 2006. --Mike McGonigal

1. Napoleon Says
2. Consolation Prizes
3. Rally
4. Long Distance Call
5. One Time Too Many
6. Lost and Found
7. Courtesy Laughs
8. North
9. Sometimes in the Fall
10. Second to None

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 23, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Parlophone
  • ASIN: B000FC2FVA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,495 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By D. Jackson on October 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Having followed Phoenix's discography along with Air, Tahiti 80, Zoot Woman, and a long list of other French bands that I found from links that traced back to Daft Punk, I suddenly find them in a class higher above -- and all their own -- compared to many of their ilk.

This is an amazing album, from start to finish. Previous releases "United" and "Alphabetical" were fantasic albums, too, but their ambition outweighed their purpose. That sounds like it might be a good thing, and in many ways it was, but the frailty of "their sound" meant that the textures were always shifting, different from song to song, in a way that kept them from feeling whole.

With "It's Never Been Like That" Phoenix have found their legs to stand on, and developed a sound that manages to evoke all that they've ever been, but at the same time remain completely themselves. This isn't mood music, or something to leave in the background. This is joyous, celebratory, "sing along with your window rolled down" driving music.

This album is rock and pop, get up and dance, sit down and nod. It's everything music should be, played with breathless enthusiasm, yet somehow seeming effortless. Though I risk over-selling it to the point of disappointment, I'm willing to take that risk. These songs will plant their hooks into your brain, and you won't want them to leave.

Key tracks:

+ Consolation Prizes
+ Courtesy Laughs
+ Sometimes In The Fall
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A.S.M. 75 on December 26, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Well folks, this is a long overdue review of a record that needs its rightful recognition. Simply put, this should be the album of the year for 2006 (not "Return To Cookie Mountain" by TV On The Radio). This disc is packed full of the kind of rhythms and melodies that will keep you going back to it year after year. "It's Never Been Like That" is one of those rare albums that are great from beginning to end. I am a (still young) high school teacher and have played some of the songs for a few students and they've all reacted positively to what they heard. Questions like why don't they play Phoenix on the radio? and do they have other records? were being asked. As a teacher, I have summer months off from work and I travel to Italy for most of the summer. "It's Never Been Like That" quickly became the soundtrack of the summer for my wife and I. I highly recommend this album and feel confident that you won't be disappointed. As always, allow every album the opportunity to grow on you and I promise you that this album will be one that you keep going back to year after year.
Getting back to my comment about "Return To Cookie Mountain"... I am personally startled that this disc by TV On The Radio is as highly praised by critics and fans as it is. I commented that you should allow an album to grow on you in order to fully understand it and appreciate it, but after more than 10 times listening to "Return To Cookie Mountain", I an still wondering how it is possible that quality albums like "It's Never Been Like That" could get overshadowed by that album.

ENJOY PHOENIX!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter L. Knutson on August 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I'm more and more impressed by Phoenix the longer I listen to them. This record has a beautiful sense of the power of repetition in a pop song. The subtle sonic and lyric shifts allow the songs to flex and bob about themselves, creating songs that more akin to woven compositions than just verse/corus/verse.

Standouts like Rally and One Time Too Many show the bands confidence and ability to know when to layout or build up to strengthen the feel of the song.

My only complaint would be that many of the songs seem truncated right as they might be well served by a real release or extended coda. That said, it gives one a good reason to play it again and again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By F. Harrison on September 27, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I was blown away by these guys in concert. They carried their earlier, more poppy stuff well, but their new stuff really rocked! THis album is full of great tunes that allude a bit to the early 80s punk movement, but also throw a couple unique styles out there. The use of repetition is the most blatant thing on the album that I haven't heard anywhere else. It kinda throws you off at first, but then, you learn to love it- great stuff!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ida Know on June 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If you've ever seen Phoenix in concert, or at very least heard last year's "Live! 30 Days Ago," you already know that the band's stage performances are a lot more high-energy than the laidback, feel-good pop of their last two albums would suggest. And that's where "It's Never Been Like That" seems to pick up. Forget about their Air connections or early Daft Punk-inspired electro-disco tracks like "Heat Wave," the French quartet's latest is a poppin' rock record, filled with more jangling guitars than the Strokes have been able to muster over the last few years. But don't let that assertion scare you into thinking that Phoenix are jumping on the garage bandwagon a couple of years too late, because that's not the case. Written in the studio with much of the album recorded in one-takes, singer Thomas Mars -- Sofia Coppola's lucky boyfriend -- is still coming up with non-ironic vocal hooks that could sound at home on your favorite MOR station, sandwiched between hits by Hall & Oates and Steely Dan. But quirkier pop charms, from Mars' cleverly oblique lyrics to the thoughtful arrangements, probably place Phoenix closer to the good company of, say, Utopia's early-'80s records, but with a decidedly "indie" feel (one could easily compare "It's Never Been Like That" to Sloan's "One Chord to Another" or "Twice Removed"). Though old fans might be thrown off for a second by the lack of electronics, they'll be pulled right back in by tracks like "Long Distance Call" which has a charged chorus that's every bit as catchy as "Every Thing Is" and "If I Ever Feel Better." The same can be said for the summery strum-fest of "One Time Too Many" or the ringing-guitar-driven "Napoleon Says," while album closer "Second to None" is about as urgent as anything the band has ever done. If today's top-40 radio were at all relevant, Phoenix would be sitting at number one with a bullet in the high summer days between the 4th of July and Bastille Day.
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second to none
If this album was by a new band I wouldn't have had anything to say about it beyond "weak album, weak band". The reason I, and I assume a lot of other people, are focussing on how far short it falls of their previous work is because that's really the only interesting thing about this... Read More
May 27, 2006 by pancake_repairman |  See all 2 posts
No big surprises, just quality pop
Pretty much my thoughts. At first I didn't like it at all, but it's starting to grow a bit on me. I guess deep down I knew it'd be very hard for them to match United and Alphabetical, but I'm still a bit disappointed. To me, the vocals are what really suffers on this album - they sound forced and... Read More
May 11, 2006 by S. Schmid |  See all 2 posts
Phoenix doesn't grow from this fire Be the first to reply
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