Album Review: Phoenix – Bankrupt!


In 2009 Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix propelled Phoenix from being a relatively cult band to one of France’s most internationally successful artists. Now, in 2013, they seem to have stared at their metaphorical piles of gold and felt slightly nauseated. The band claim the philosophy behind their new album Bankrupt! is pretty literal: move away from their previous pop sound and enter experimental territory where commercial success cannot bother them.

This album has an electronic pop sound straight out of a Japanese Roller Disco.

However, the incompatibility between the album’s sound and the album’s philosophy is pretty confusing. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was more electronic than Phoenix’s previous work, which was a possible reason for its greater success. Considering Bankrupt! is meant to be less commercial you may expect a departure from this sound; however, it is even more electronic than anything Phoenix has done before. This album has an electronic pop sound straight out of a Japanese Roller Disco.

Indeed, disco is something that comes to mind when listening to Bankrupt!. Considering the slight disco renaissance going on at the moment, with artists like Skream and fellow French citizens Daft Punk experimenting with the genre, Phoenix seem like they might be joining in. The opening sounds of ‘Trying To Be Cool’ immediately generate mental images of Saturday Night Fever upon listening.

So, whether they intended to or not, Phoenix have definitely produced some great dancing music. Songs such as ‘Don’t’ sound like they were written purely for the purpose of getting crowds excited at festivals this summer. Also, the albums songs aren’t just good dancing music; nearly every song on Bankrupt! is catchy and makes for very addictive listening, something which Phoenix have achieved throughout their career.

Bankrupt! is undeniably commercial in its sound; despite what Phoenix claimed to be their intentions. However, producing an album with a commercial sound, which is still high quality music is a big achievement. Many artists who achieve commercial success either churn out manufactured rubbish for the rest of their lives or are so afraid of their success they go so experimental that it is pretty hard to appreciate any of their music. Phoenix are among the few who seem to have kept their balance after success and are able to carry on producing high quality, accessible music.

Ian Fillingham

…Ian has been listening to Serafina Steer – ‘Disco Compilation’…



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