The French connection to 80's synth/pop reinvents a genre long given up for dead!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
My search for new sounds often takes me down the harmonic road less traveled. For many synth/pop is little more than a pleasant reminder of the 80's and the artists now prominently featured on those "where are they now" segments on various cable channels. The French group Phoenix and their latest release Bankrupt continues to make waves if not significant progress in the all too fickle American market.
Traditional synth/pop much like smooth jazz seemed to die by it's own hands of predictability and lack of any real musical development. This French 4tet has even caused some dissension in their own fan base with a good many preferring that slightly more produced sound of their last release Wolfgang Amadeus as opposed to the foot to the floor approach of an incredibly loud Bankrupt. While production techniques provide a legitimate basis of critical analysis what has remained constant is solid songwriting with memorable tunes. What is even more admirable is the attempt at the growth and development of the artistic vision and the ability to pull it off and keep things incredibly interesting. No band that is on a label of any kind is attacking the genre in the same fashion nor with the kind of critical acclaim that Phoenix so richly deserves.
As the best of 2013 lists continue to pour out you will see this band feature prominently on many including the Barnes and Noble list already released. In the all to tired, stale and intellectually stagnant world of pop music, Phoenix is a band with muscle and whose musical stock has just jumped exponentially! A unique hybrid of disco beats, alternative rock riffs and synth/pop color has this French collective at the top of their game.
Personnel: Thomas Mars: Vocals; Deck D'Arcy: Bass; Christian Mazzalai: Guitar; Branco Mazzalai: Guitar.
Tracks: Entertainment; The Real Thing; S.O.S In Bel Air; Trying To Be Cool; Bankrupt!; Drakkar Noir; Chloroform; Don't Bourgeois; Oblique City