Radio.com Essentials: Phoenix Try To Experiment Their Way To The Top

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Courtesy of Glassnote Records

Courtesy of Glassnote Records

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No one would blame Phoenix if they decided to stick with the same crowd-pleasing sound that worked so well for them on their breakthrough album, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. But the French foursome definitely weren’t interested in continuing right where they left off in 2009. With their latest record, Bankrupt!, the band wanted to play around with their sound and maybe even force a few people to question whether they were even the same group of guys that made “1901.”

Guitarist Laurent Brancowitz said in our latest Radio.com Essentials profile (below) that experimenting is nothing new for Phoenix.

“We really want each album to sound like a different band even though we know that’s not possible,” he explained. “But we try every time to find new forms and with this album even more than others.”

Take, the record’s first single “Entertainment,” which uses the Asian riff (a nod to David Bowie’s “China Girl”) to explore the idea of those massive demonstrations in North Korea.

“Imagine one individual that is a part of those huge choreographies with over 30,000 participants… and the sadness and melancholy of the fake smile,” Brancowitz said. “That was the idea that we were trying to transcribe.”

As for whether the song is political statement, Brancowitz simply noted with a smile: “It’s not all political, but everything poetic equals political.”

Radio.com‘s own Jillian Mapes believes that even though “Entertainment” is different from  “1901,” a pure pop gem that found its way into a Cadillac commercial and won over the Saturday Night Live crowd, it’s a sleeper hit that will become bigger as the guys continue to make the festival circuit rounds.

“I thought ‘Entertainment’ was actually really bizarre when I first heard it and part of it is how strong the Asian influence is,” she said. “[But] the more I listened to it, the more it grew on me. I think it will be this thing that kind of just grows, and grows and grows and explodes a little bit.”

Phoenix isn’t a band that’s concerned with the hype. They took four years to release the follow-up to Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which is like an eternity in pop music years. But in that time they soundtracked two films directed by frontman Thomas Mars’ wife Sofia Coppola (2010’s Somewhere and this summer’s Bling Ring), which helped set their latest album in motion.

Read more about Phoenix’s experimental album on Radio.com


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