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Best of Boston 2009

Phoenix | Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

V2 (2009)
By JAKE COHEN  |  May 12, 2009
3.5 3.5 Stars

The French have a way of adopting bits of marginalized American culture — jazz, Faulkner, film noir — and transforming them into something headier, smokier. Sure, they make the occasional mistake (hey, Jerry Lewis!), but Versailles-based quartet Phoenix mostly don't.

On Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the band's take on the NYC garage-rock revival has matured into a densely textured bricolage of pop rock. The title of jangly opener "Lisztomania" foreshadows the album's programmatic leanings, but the eight-minute, mostly instrumental "Love like a Sunset" undercuts pretense with a funky guitar build-up. The sonar-ping synths and four-on-the-floor beats on both the melancholic "Fences" and barnburning single "1901" likewise unify rather than distract.

Lead singer Thomas Mars plays with lyrical repetition on nearly every track, but these broken-record hiccups are less an ESL problem than a symptom of the group's ability to dredge every bit of emotional resonance from a bar of music. Phoenix deal with an American genre on its own terms — and in its own language — far better than most homegrown bands. The Strokes had nothing to say three albums in; that's a problem Phoenix seem destined to rise above.
Related: Gone, baby, gone, Live free or die!, Lift and drag, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Jerry Lewis, Paradise Rock Club, Phoenix,  More more >
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