A Conversation about Phoenix’s ‘Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix’

[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/1901/id315002203?uo=4″ title=”Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix” text=”Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”] has generated so much buzz in the last year. Here are some of our writers’ thoughts on the Phoenix and their latest album.

Josh McRae:  Phoenix‘s fourth album is what a lot of people, especially critics, are calling a masterpiece. I tend to disagree with critics on basis of principle, which is ironic as I am now a critic, but I digress. I just did not get this album on a whole. The album has its high points, but it feels like as soon as my energy starts lifting up, and the songs seem to go somewhere, they drag me back down to a musical place I find too dull and subtle. Not to say that I don’t like subtleties. I enjoy them, but not in every song. It seems like they are trying too hard to be artsy, and it comes off that way.

Now that we have my griping out of the way (ha!), there are great songs on this album. “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/lisztomania/id315002203?i=315002364&uo=4″ title=”Lisztomania” text=”Lisztomania”]” has a great build to it, and seems to set up the album for greatness. The subtleties in this are brought out brilliantly through contrast. “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/1901/id315002203?i=315002383&uo=4″ title=”1901″ text=”1901″]” keeps this energy going, but you can start to feel the push to be artisic with their music. It comes out with a bang, simmers you down to listen to the instrumental, “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-like-a-sunset-pt-i/id315002203?i=315002455&uo=4″ title=”Love Like A Sunset” text=”Love Like A Sunset”]”, and slowly builds back up, with highs at “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rome/id315002203?i=315002493&uo=4″ title=”Rome” text=”Rome”]”, and finishing up wih “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/armistice/id315002203?i=315002670&uo=4″ title=”Armistice” text=”Armistice”].” Come to think of it, this album is kinda like sex with new love interest. It starts out passionate, slows down so as not to climax too quickly, and slowly works you back up to climax. Now I need a cigarette……..no wait, I’m a man, so, ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

To those who don’t get it, listen a few times. Get a nice cup of herbal tea, and do something casual, like watching a black and white movie with the sound muted. You will slowly realize how good this album really is. And though I’m sure it won’t be a life changer, you will feel satisfied with it.

Josh says download: “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/rome/id315002203?i=315002493&uo=4″ title=”Rome” text=”Rome”]”, “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/1901/id315002203?i=315002383&uo=4″ title=”1901″ text=”1901″]”, “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/armistice/id315002203?i=315002670&uo=4″ title=”Armistice” text=”Armistice”]”

Jebbica:  I couldn’t disagree more with Josh (which is great; we’re not all robots–hooray!). While Phoenix have a reputation for putting out solid albums, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was a game changer.  Listen to their debut, United, and songs like “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/if-i-ever-feel-better/id19430179?i=19430156&uo=4″ title=”If I Ever Feel Better” text=”If I Ever Feel Better”]” could have easily felt just at home on a Jamiroquai record.  2004’s Alphabetical was another roller disco full of fun, but I LOVED it. 2006’s [itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/consolation-prizes/id152053473?uo=4″ title=”It’s Never Been Like That” text=”It’s Never Been Like That”] seemed like it was almost there, but the latest album just perfected what the last one was aiming for. There is little similarity to the old sound. I’m a fan of both directions, but it’s like listening to two different bands.  Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is pop in its purest form, channeling composers Franz Liszt and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and finding a very happy medium from that odd couple.  “Rome” swells and flourishes like a symphony, and finishes so strongly it’s hard to imagine anything trying to follow it. And yet, there it is: “[itunes link=”http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/countdown/id315002203?i=315002590&uo=4″ title=”Countdown (Sick For the Big Sun)” text=”Countdown (Sick For the Big Sun)”]”, and it holds its own in its synth-pop foreboding of doom.  There’s nary a song that I wouldn’t recommend downloading, as almost every song has lent itself to my 2009-10 Life Soundtrack.  And, unlike Josh, I couldn’t imagine listening to this while sipping tea and reading Nietzsche.  This is car music.  This is crank it up and feel it coursing through your veins music.  Phoenix seems to be getting better with age. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine just how good the next one’s gonna be.

Jebbica says download: All of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (but skip the remixes album–snore), and then download Alphabeticaltoo, while you’re at it.

Check out “Lisztomania” unplugged

John Galt:   Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is definitely worth a listen for just about anyone, as I can personally find nothing musically offensive  throughout the album.   It’s listenable from beginning to end.  The potential  problem with the album is that there isn’t a great deviation in sound from one track to another , which may be the whole point of the album, and considering how most albums have only a couple of decent songs on them,  maybe that shouldn’t be a complaint.

The track that stands out the most to me is “Countdown (Sick for the Big Sun)”, which sounds like a song that could be a song  in the soundtrack of your life, and equally at home as the soundtrack for some dystopian future-scape movie like The Road.

John Galt says download: “Countdown (Sick for the Big Sun)”

What are your thoughts about this album? Please share in the comments section!

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