Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, a clever play on the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s actual name, but what does it mean? In an effort to keep the theme of their release as “classical”, they used a few “classical” ways of walking that fine line between mediocrity and near-perfection. As a follow up to their terrific 2006 effort It’s Never Been Like That, Phoenix has only outdone themselves once again with their fourth release.
The lead track “Lisztomania” is a play on the film of the biography of the famous composer, Frank Liszt, which the band used to describe his magnificent ability to perform and make a crowd go wild. Lead singer Thomas Mars sings throughout the chorus, “A Lisztomania/Think less but see it grow/Like a riot like a riot oh!/Not easily offended/Know how to let it go/From the mess to the masses” as the song takes off after the first chorus into the catchiest song Phoenix has ever written. But wait, it’s only the first track. Surely it doesn’t end here. Enter: “1901”, who’s synth keyboard intro pounds the listener’s eardrums grouped with another classic Phoenix guitar section that can’t help but make you bob your head. As “Lisztomania” proclaims “It’s time to show it off! It’s time to show it off!”, “1901” does just that by showing off Phoenix’s ability to create a perfect pop-rock song.
The album’s progression is nearly flawless, starting out with two catchy singles, followed by the softer build up, “Fences”, as well as the two part “Love Like A Sunset”, in which part 1 consists of strictly instrumentals which build up into part 2. In part 2, Mars confesses “Here it comes/A visible illusion/You’re like a sunset”, but don’t get teary-eyed quite yet. If you were close, you’d get blown away by the whiplash of “Lasso”, which flies by with the bassline-guitar driven intro which clash into the drum section like no other track on the album. The combination works perfectly because the band choreographs the instrumentals exceptionally well.
Second half highlights “Rome” and “Girlfriend” do just what Phoenix does best in making great pop music with indie rock roots. With Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the band goes above and beyond most everything they’ve done on previous records. The consistency of great tunes mixed with catchy singles creates an undeniable feeling of peppiness and puts a smile on your face every single time you turn it on. You can maybe put their song in that Cadillac commercial, but it doesn’t indicate a sellout. The band took a few years to deliver something they could call their best, and we believe they’ve done just that. Now if we can only get a follow up…well now we’re just getting greedy.
WPGU’s Top 20 Albums of the Year:
1. Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
2. Passion Pit: Manners
3. Grizzly Bear: Veckatimest
4. Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavilion
5. Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca
6. Wilco: Wilco (The Album)
7. St. Vincent: Actor
8. Yeah Yeah Yeahs: It’s Blitz!
9. Arctic Monkeys: Humbug
10. Japandroids: Post-Nothing
11. The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You
12. Andrew Bird: Noble Beast
13. Julian Casablancas: Phrazes for the Young
14. Silversun Pickups: Swoon
15. Discovery: LP
16. Miike Snow: Miike Snow
17. The Flaming Lips: Embryonic
18. Wolfmother: Cosmic Egg
19. Manchester Orchestra: Mean Everything To Nothing
20. Jay-Z: The Blueprint 3
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