How does a band as definitively springy as Phoenix discover inspiration? When the French quartet launched their debut greater than 20 years in the past, their meticulous manufacturing and candy-sweet hooks appeared dually primed for pageant levels and dimly lit cocktail bars. Earlier than the breakout success of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, Phoenix had been that band your indie-head good friend stated must be big, man—and once they obtained big, headlining Coachella and lending their hit “1901” to a Cadillac business, your good friend nonetheless rode for them. Phoenix hasn’t needed to danger inventive integrity for mainstream enchantment or reinvent their fashion to stay related—their ebullient, easy pop-rock is enduringly of-the-moment, refined sufficient to appease purists and secure sufficient to seem in a lingerie commercial.
Six albums and a pair a long time in, although, it’s truthful to marvel if Phoenix’s trusted method can spark the flame it as soon as did. Whereas 2017’s Ti Amo featured all their acquainted thrives—buzzy bass, bubblegum synth, pleasure-packed choruses—the report felt stale, filled with empty energy. What number of extra occasions may Thomas Mars chant a sing-along hook that basically resonated, or noodle a riff that hit like those on Wolfgang? On the band’s seventh studio album, Alpha Zulu, Phoenix’s euphoric synth rock sounds pretty much as good because it ever has, the songs gushing with renewed enthusiasm and glittery manufacturing. They sometimes coloration exterior the traces of their commonplace fashion, however principally they persist with the script—they know what works, so why change now? Although emotionally distant and structurally predictable, Alpha Zulu’s a enjoyable, fizzy report that’ll undoubtedly discover a house on strobe-lit dancefloors the world over.
Writing and recording amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Phoenix didn’t need Alpha Zulu to be outlined as their pandemic album. Pushed by “the opportunity of taking part in [the album] dwell sometime,” they made songs destined for jam-packed crowds and costly gentle reveals, work that may slot seamlessly into their current setlist of hits. No new tune is prone to encourage extra fervor on the street than the Ezra Koenig-assisted “Tonight,” the band’s finest tune since Wolfgang. Coursing with punchy percussion and shiny, shuddering guitars, “Tonight” evokes a bygone period when Vampire Weekend and Phoenix had been on the forefront of a brand new wave of revolutionary, idiosyncratic guitar pop; Mars and Koenig sound like a pair of cool dads reliving their glory days. The enjoyable continues on the club-ready “All Eyes on Me,” the place Mars delivers one of many album’s most memorable hooks over muscular bass, pulsing synths, EDM risers, and tinkly harpsichord. Even when the writing accommodates traces of melancholy, Alpha Zulu is nothing if not a very good time.