Shoot me down in flames but I have a somewhat fixed belief that
until very recently the French (rather like Italy) have contributed
very little of lasting value to the history of popular music.
Not even Serge Gainsbourg's 'Harley Davidson' can redeem them.
'Pheonix' have done well to challenge my innate and irrational
prejudices and I am pleased to report that I am besotted with
their new album 'Wolfgang Amadeus Pheonix'.
There is some irrepressibly good energy in these 10 fine songs.
Mr Mars has an appealing voice; smooth and high and debonair.
The melodies are strong; the rhythms dance-friendly.
Messrs D'Arcy, Brancowitz and Mazzalai create a never less
than interesting framework for the vocal material; sometimes
fluid and transparent, sometimes dense and darker in tone.
Opening track 'Lisztomania' kicks off the project in fine style.
Chiming guitar, pounding percussion and a strong central vocal
performance from Mr Mars. A very fine pop song.
'1901' continues in a similar vein. A multi-layered slice
of gold-plated creativity. The chorus is an uplifting gem.
Other highlights include the delightful 'Lasso'. Coming in under
three minutes it is a model of economy. Just enough of a good idea.
'Countdown', for my money, is the strongest track in the collection.
A driving anthem, movingly realised. One to play over and over.
This fine little band have found a good formula
and made it work both for themselves and for us.
French redemption is possible after all.