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Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

4.4 out of 5 stars 192 customer reviews

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Vinyl, May 26, 2009
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Product Details

  • Vinyl (May 26, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Glassnote
  • ASIN: B0021X519E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,778 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Phoenix Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. M. VINE VOICE on May 15, 2009
Format: MP3 Music
Phoenix are one of the greatest bands to come out of France in the last 15 years (along with Daft Punk and Air, two of my great musical loves, and several other bands that formed around the same time), and they are finally receiving some well-deserved attention. Phoenix just keep getting better, and they know it -- they love it, they exploit it, they bathe in its glory. Seriously, who else would have the "couilles" to title their fourth album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix? But it's justified. This album is pure shining genius from a band with a unique and creative sound, a gift that the American public is starved for in these vapid, manufactured Disney-pop times. I've been hooked on Phoenix since the moment I saw their "If I Ever Feel Better" video in 2001 while living in Paris. Over the past decade, Phoenix have continually reinvented their sound -- with undeniable cohesion and hat-tips to previous albums -- and WAP, their pièce de résistance, is no exception.

It helps in assessing the roots of WAP, their fourth album, to look back across Phoenix's discography. United (2000) was a bizarre yet pleasing amalgamation of insanely catchy pop gems, dark bluesy instrumentals, hollering garage rock, and smooth downtempo. (Interestingly, their "Too Young" single, from United, was featured in the night-on-the-town apartment scene in Lost in Translation; this was America's first real taste of Phoenix.) By contrast, their second album, Alphabetical (2004), had a far more cohesive sound: its synth-y, finger-tapping indie pop made for a crisp, solid album. Listening to Alphabetical, you likely thought, "Wow, Phoenix have really come into their own since United!
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Format: Audio CD
Phoenix has been chugging along dutifully for years ever since their taste-making role in Lost in Translation's soundtrack, but fame has continued to elude the French foursome. Lost in Translation wasn't Garden State, and Phoenix certainly isn't the Shins, but despite Phoenix's ability to churn out irresistibly catchy pop singles, those same singles have never managed to translate into pop success. Maybe something was lost in translation over the Atlantic (sorry, I had to), but Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, their 4th major label effort, offers more than enough quirky synth-rock to finally give the band a hit on American shores.

The one-two punch of first single "Lisztomania" and "1901" that opens the record is the kind of combo that could prevent the rest of the album from being heard. Both are bouncy slices of indie rock guaranteed to get feet tapping: "Lisztomania" rides a jittery beat and vocalist Thomas Mars' oscillating vocals to a chorus perfectly memorable and perfectly simple, while "1901" mixes buzzing synths with a jangly chorus and a Mars' echoing refrain of "fallin'" that begs to be sung along to.

Previous listeners of Phoenix will find little difference initially between Wolfgang and their 2006 work, It's Never Been Like That. While most of Wolfgang retains Phoenix's relentless energy and effervescent melodies, the album as a whole feels more fleshed out, more organic sounding than INBLT, which at times sounded mechanical and clashing. "Fences" switches between a down-tempo disco groove and Mars' falsetto verses to a keyboard-heavy chorus with yet another on-the-money chorus, while on a song like "Lasso," Mars sounds more focused and natural than ever before, his habit of over-enunciating lessened and his versatile range exploited nicely.
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Format: Audio CD
I'll admit it, I became a fan of Phoenix after hearing 1901 on their Cadillac commercial. However, I really enjoyed the layering of effects in that song, that make the song so enjoyable even after several hundred plays. So I downloaded the complete album on my Zune pass and had a listen... and another, and another. I probably listened to the album for a week straight at work while coding.

This album exemplifies a very extraordinary talent of meshing all kinds of different instruments, both string and electronic together, and having what comes out not become an indiscernible mess of noise. As an example "Rome" which uses both slow and fast tempo interludes really capture the essence of the album. They are a French band, but you wouldn't know it by listening to Thomas Mars' effortless serenades. It's hard to compare his style, but it is reminiscent of Incubus' Brandon Boyd or The Strokes' Julian Casablancas, it just flows with the music. What is a rather remarkable feat is that they don't actually have a drummer in the band, but Thomas Hedlund apparently fills for their live gigs along with another blonde headed guy that I do not know the name of. For their album I am not sure who plays, but I'm guessing Hedlund did, he is a very impressive talent.

I had the chance to see them in Austin at a small venue just as they were hitting their stride on the U.S. music charts, at a sold out Stubb's. The concert did not disappoint, this band is just as good (if not better) live than they are on album. Their passion really shows on the stage even while touring, as they really get into the music and truly enjoy being creative. It is by far the best concert I've seen if you are into alternative rock.

Honestly, give this album quite a few listens, and focus on all of the separate things going on and you can truly appreciate the musical talent to create some of their titles.
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