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Phoenix / It's Never Been Like That

18-Oct-2006 03:56 AM Contributed by: pete Music Reviews
10 Track CD
Copyright © 2006 Virgin Music
http://www.wearephoenix.com/ or on MySpace
Listen Listen to Long Distance Call
Enema Rating:


Phoenix is a four-piece band that calls home Versailles, France and It's Never Been Like That is their 3rd full-length studio album. I'll admit now that I haven't had really any exposure to English rock originating in France. In fact, the only other French band I can think of that I listen to is Air, and although I love some of their music, it's not a stretch for me to figure out where they're from. But after grooving my way through It's Never Been Like That for the first time, I was definitely surprised. Not because it is entirely in English, but mostly because I just wasn't expecting it to be my new favourite pop-rock album of 2006.

The only real reference to their French-ness is the first track, Napoleon Says, which, aside from the reference in the title, opens the album with the lyrics "You know your French well". It's a playfulness that follows through the song with "Napoleon says take off you clothes" and well into the next three tracks: Consolation Prizes, Rally, and Long Distance Call. These four songs are perfect examples of pure pop brilliance - they're based on uncomplicated song structures, but they make excellent use of missed beats and pauses, and they are riddled with hooks so strong they that have the power to alter your mood and possibly make you wiggle and jump.

After listening to the album more than a few times, I've started to think of the first four tracks as "beginner Phoenix" and the remaining six tracks as "advanced Phoenix". The four songs got me hooked, but it took a few listens to really appreciate the remaining six tracks in the same way. There is some variety, such as the 8th track, North, a simple instrumental that starts out a very quiet and builds to a satisfying crescendo over the 5 minutes, but for the most part it's an album filled with feel-good pop. Not what I expected from a band that has been labeled "Indie Electronic" and "Alternative Dance" for previous efforts.

Don't listen to this album expecting elaborate or bracing compositions. Instead, simply enjoy the ten tracks of extremely approachable and agreeable pop-rock. This is the kind of music that should be used to warm up your mood before a night out, or to get the party started. Sadly, I missed them when they were in Toronto back in September (both at The Mod Club and at V-Fest), but won't make that mistake again. Stay in touch with them on the We Are Phoenix website.

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Phoenix / It's Never Been Like That
Authored by: Anonymous on 20-Nov-2006 03:50 PM
I enjoyed It's Never Been Like That, and it is growing on me, though personally
I think this album pales in comparison to Alphabetical.
Phoenix / It's Never Been Like That
Authored by: pete on 26-Nov-2006 08:55 PM
Thanks for the tip, I will be sure to pick up Alphabetical.