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Album review: Phoenix's 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix'

May 26, 2009 |  5:25 pm

Phoenix Optimistic high school band teachers and the dapper French quartet Phoenix might be the only people alive who can envision a wave of “Lisztomania” sweeping today’s youth. But the title of the leadoff track from Phoenix’s new album is an apt synopsis of their mannered yet effervescent romanticism.

“Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” a truly marvelous album title if ever there was one, is danceable but only a little disco, synth-driven but clubland averse, an easy record to like but a more difficult one to love.

It’s fitting that many American fans learned of the band through the “Lost in Translation” soundtrack, as “Wolfgang” evokes that film’s dazed sensuality and sense of fleeting pleasure. The first single, “1901,” is driven by a thick, shimmering Moog and Thomas Mars’ collar-loosening yelps, and “Lasso” and “Countdown” are especially scintillating rockers.

Yet after a good number of frothy tracks like “Girlfriend” and a long instrumental doodle, Phoenix’s pleasures become akin to eating a tin of cake frosting: A worthy and delicious Friday-night endeavor, but expect a touch of a toothache in the morning.

—August Brown

“Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix”
Two and a half stars