Always in any analysis of anything, there’s the tendency to want to look at the thing paradigmatically — to examine not only the given subject’s facets, but also how these facets might conjeal into postulating a larger truth about nations, about humanity or psychology in general.
But many things, too, are necessary to take into consideration. For instance: I, as I’m sure are millions of others around the globe, am experiencing Phoenix’ new album by way of the Internet, and there’s at very least a strong chance that this mechanistic format goes toward informing how they put the album together. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to judge this. But I’d also like to say that it’s become rarer and rarer that I find music that I MYSELF think is TOO experiemental (or “weird,” to be more precise). I even cottoned on to Junun. Leave the considerable weirdness forays, then, to the members of Wilco’s side projects.
Plus, I mean, this is PHOENIX. Granted, I do hear spectral opinions of them. They’re sort of like The Killers — drolling out relentlessly poppy plate fare to soundtrack your drive home, or equally, the session in T.G.I. Friday’s from WHICH you’re driving home. And I do think there’s still a place for pop music. He**, there better be. Just yesterday I heard somebody listening to the ENTIRE Adele album. It was like being in a nursery and hearing 17 babies cry at one time.
Nix that, Phoenix is more like Coldplay, because their music, though universally palatable to an arguably reductive extent, does nine times out of 10 manage to coordinate SOME feeling amidst its crests and waves. I look at this new album and it’s only got 10 songs, though, and to be honest that sort of pi**es me off — I hate when things are excessively geared toward vinyl, especially seeing as the man who brought us the 70-minute Superunknown just passed away. DD likes Bankrupt!, but before even listening to Ti Amo, noticing how all the song lengths are about the same (a stark contrast from Dodos – Visiter in this regard), I’m already wary of its very format and anatomy.
Also, it’s funny I should mention Adele, because like her (and like Kendrick Lamar, for that matter), Phoenix tends to put like more producers on an album than it has songs. It sort of reminds me of that old Indian tradition of making a suitor offer a bride’s father like 17 horses, four chickens, three bears and a cobra or something, not for the value of the animals, but just as a way of demonstrating that the given suitor has achieved considerable rapport with the community, to the point of being able to ask sundry little favors thereof for purposes of animal borrowing, or animal joyriding as it were. Phoenix… gotta da rapport. They’re critically acclaimed and… yummy. There, I said it. They’re yummy.
K, without further ado (it’s not like listening to this fu**in’ album will take that long), let’s get started. You know, my suspicions upon finding that this band is distributed by Universal, and offers a lead “single” (something not necessarily a staple of the indie days), are tragically confirmed: opener “J-Boy” is composed of despicable radio-friendly retread slop, the type of thing that even the average T.G.I. Friday’s patron would be inclined to vomit in his or her mouth over. You can measure the edge or grit of this music in the space underneath your fingernails.
“Ti Amo” is hopelessly flaccid, skittish pop approximating Passion Pit annoyingly (in other words, sacrificing the scant machismo the band might have mustered in its burgeoning days in favor of culturally median pu**yfooting). I must admit, though, there is at least something going on in “Ti Amo” — the chord progression tenses up into something not overly played out, and I can’t help but laugh when I hear Thomas Mars mention playing “classics by the Buzzcocks” in a pained accent, before busting back into some French.
This awful song “Tuttifrutti” came in on m Spotify right after a commercial and for a second I thought it WAS another commercial — nay, it made me WISH that annoying Swiffer lady would come back on and tell me how to clean up my floor. That would be vastly preferable to this pathetic formulaic garbage that would make the Hooters girls look like subversive cultural vanguards by comparison. And what’s up with calling your fu**in’ song “Tuttifrutti”? Check that, I don’t wanna know.
Well, I am gonna be SORT of easy on Phoenix, here, seeing as it is their fourth album and they have up until this point been pretty consistent, surviving all the while as possibly a little underexposed and underpaid. We all want ze money, tha’s for sure. And if Ti Amo gives Phoenix ze money, well, I might just upchuck, but it will be sort of like an ironic poetic justice for the overlooked creative arms they’ve laid out on projects prior. Plus, if I can at least find a COUPLE good songs on this effort, it will be better than nothing — I have no qualms with examining Phoenix as a singles band at this point, especially considering the anatomical conceptualism we got on projects like “Love Like a Sunset” suite.
The intro to Fior de Latte reminds me of some goopy Elton John crap, and what’s really pi**ing me off about Ti Amo is the complete lack of instrumentation alteration from their last efforts — there’s still that stupidly optimistic-sounding synth, and what’s even worse, all these songs seem to be about fu**ing — it’s like some pathetic race of beings convinced that they’re meant to procreate for the very reason that they’re capable of it. And he really just “We’re meant to get it on”, didn’t he? Dan Bejar should join this band now that he’s out of the New Pornographers — he’d be a perfect fit for it. They could all get together and like dump hot wax on each other’s nips and sh**.
K. So the titled track I found remotely commendable, if not necessarily LISTENABLE, whereas the rest of this dross so far makes me even long for that metal sh** they play at work. At least that sh** has the common sense not to act like everything’s a fu**in’ bed of roses. As corny and formulaic as Ti Amo is, its problems are compounded from an American perspective for its in no way reflecting the calamitous DNA of the world in which we today live.
Good God, and what should the next song be called but “Lovelife.” Jesus fu**ing Christ. I’m through.