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Review: Phoenix Embrace Mellow Seventies Sunshine on ‘Ti Amo’

Our take on the sophisticated retro-rock of the French band’s sixth LP

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'Ti Ami' is the sixth album from Phoenix.

Emma Le Doyen

The biggest and best French rock band ever has proved that you can still go pop on the strength of cagey songcraft and retro-rock sophistication. “Champagne or prosecco?” frontman Thomas Mars offers over a New Wave mirror-ball glide on the title track of their sixth LP, before dropping references to the Buzzcocks, soft rock and that venerable old-school smoothie Beethoven.

Phoenix’s
2013 LP Bankrupt! seemed to pull back a bit from the
spit-polished bounce of their wondrous surprise hits “1901” and “Lisztomania.”
This time out, they’re heavy into mellow Seventies sunshine, with major
ELO/10cc/Steely Dan overtones. “J-Boy” is posh, pouty disco kicks
impacted with lyrics about lovers like “kamikazes in a hopeless
world.” And “Fior Di Latte” is sad-hearted yacht-soul splendor.
Phoenix are at their most fun when they’re writing in the margins of pop
history: The glowing electro ballad “Lovelife” is the AM radio smash
Kraftwerk never had, while “Telefono” suggests the Doobie Brothers as
indie-pop Continentals. Even when you can’t tell what Mars is singing about
(which is a lot), the music radiates a suave majesty that feels universal. 

In This Article: Phoenix

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