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"Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" by Phoenix
While at Barnes & Noble about a week ago, I found myself browsing the Music and Video section of the store. When I first entered the section, I wasn’t searching for anything in particular; more so, I was browsing their video selection. After quickly becoming bored with that, and after not being able to find the shows that I was searching for, I began to browse the music section. After being wowed by how vast Barnes & Noble’s music selection seemed to be, I began to browse for familiar favorites of mine, hoping especially to find one of my very favorite CD’s, “Good News for People Who Love Bad News,” by the band Modest Mouse. Unfortunately, while they did have one Modest Mouse CD that I was unfamiliar with, they did not have the album that I was looking for, so I gave up my search and simply began to browse their “new music” selection. Because Barnes & Noble stores provide headsets and a scanner in order to allow their customers to pre-listen to parts of albums before making their purchase, I spent some time selecting random albums from the “new music” section and listening to clips of said albums. One of the albums that immediately caught my eye, mainly because of the funky design with primary colors on the front of the CD case, was "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix" by the band Phoenix. I took a glimpse at the track list and play time, both of which seemed short, and scanned the barcode on the album in order to begin listening to parts of the CD. I loved it so much that I bought it that very day and have been listening to it pretty regularly ever since.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is a fairly short album with ten tracks and a total running time of thirty-six minutes and twenty-six seconds (36:26). Each song on the album averages at about three minutes long, which is incredibly short, by almost any standards. The funky, alternative-sounding album though, is unbelievably comparable to Modest Mouse’s “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” album, and the band itself could be quite easily mistaken for Modest Mouse as well, even by people who are fans of Modest Mouse, a much better-known band. The music is moderately original and includes pieces using such basic instruments as drums, guitar, and the bass guitar. However, it also includes pieces using some lesser heard instruments such as the flute and the marimba. While the album is incredibly produced, it still is funky and original enough to immediately capture the interest of almost anyone who hears it, while at the same time not being overly cacophonic.
The lyrics of the album are intriguing and captivating, leaving the listener feeling loved, joyful, forlorn and passionate, among other emotions. Songs such as ‘Lasso’ have an upbeat tempo that easily gets listeners bobbing their heads, tapping their fingers and moving about. However, despite the catchy tune, the lyrics are somewhat deceiving in their desperately lonely nature “Forever is a long long time/ when you’ve lost your way/trying to follow your ideal/ oh sorry but your so called life/ it is such a waste” (‘Lasso’). Some of the lyrics on this album are also similar to those of the band Blue October, in that they are moderately predictable rhymes that don’t necessarily make sense on their own, but that come together nicely considering the whole of the song. A great example is the song ‘Armistice.’ The lyrics “the octagon logo had to rip it up/ the semaphore message on your lips” (‘Armistice’) leaves listeners confused at first, but in the whole of the song, when considering such lyrics as “Look what you wasted/ when the lights are cutting out/ and I come down in your room/ our daily compromise/ it is written in your signed armistice,” (‘Armistice’) listeners are able to put the message of the song together easily, especially considering the general feel of the music itself, which leaves listeners feeling somewhat pessimistic.
While some of the lyrics are predictable, and others simply don’t make the best of sense, the album on a whole is wonderfully easy to listen to, though difficult to sing along with without first reading the lyrics. The music is beautiful and easily impacts and manipulates the emotions of listeners, something that most music enthusiasts look for in a great album. This album, rather impressively these days was completely written, music and lyrics, by the members of the band, which include Deck D’Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz, Thomas Mars, and Christian Mazzilai. Even the artwork on the cover of the album was done by one of the band members, which truly is impressive.
I really enjoy music by artists who are actually that, true creators in and of their own right. This album, while not the greatest thing that I have ever heard, and while it is certainly comparable to the works of other better-known musical artists, is a true work of art because it is completely the band’s vision and works combined, not just musicians and vocalists putting the music and/or lyrics of others together and calling it their own works.
I rather enthusiastically recommend this album to anyone who enjoys alternative music with hip, funky lyrics and a fun beat. While the track “Lisztomania” is probably the best known one on the album, my favorite track, and by far the most memorable one is “Lasso,” while the most unforgettable track is probably “Love Like A Sunset Part I.”
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