Four years after their excellent debut album, PHOENIX have risen up to produce another shining work. Paul Dale attempts to decipher their appeal.
.in feeling a little disappointed right now.” (iod. I
said it. I tried to stop myself but it just came otit. I
just told the Laurent Brancowitz guitarist and keyboard player over the phone from (iermany that his new album xIlp/irilwti'r'ul still sounded like l()cc. (‘hicago and Steely Dan (at their best) to me — in my book that‘s a good thing. Bt'ancowitl sputters out a phlegmy retort in broken linglish: ‘You know. with this new album we wanted the influences to not be obvious at all. and anyway we really don‘t listen to any of that music. they are just part of our subconscious. I guess. We listen to the Neptunes. black soul music. the soundtrack to the film I’vrforiiiuiir't' . . . and the. I read Jorge Ltiis Borges.’
Now we are getting somewhere.
There is indeed something Borgesian about the writing on Phoenix's new album. The lyrics deny both precociousness and elegant wit for a simpler strength. and romanticism is barely on the cards in the beautifully structured and executed outings like ‘liverything is liverything‘. ‘l‘m an Actor" and ‘lloldin‘ on Together". (‘larity seems to be the greater rule of thumb. The floppy haired. (iallic chinncd Branco (as he prefers to be known) looks like a reject from revolutionary commune circa l‘)(i8 (so do the rest of Phoenix). and he is beginning to warm to his theme.
‘You know Steely Dan were all about perfection.
with us it is more about haying the right balance of
emotions: it‘s more about telling the truth than just being efficient. you know. It should sound right. not perfect. We work hard to get things right.’
In 2()()() Phoenix‘s first album (fiii'ml appeared. It was something quite remarkable. a pop album that concentrated on being consummate. achineg well
‘WE REALLY DON'T LISTEN TO IOCC, CHICAGO OR ST EELY DAN; THEY ARE JUST PART OF OUR "“‘“’ SUBCONSCIOUS'
crafted and extraordinarily catchy. For a generation
that was forced to listen to Hall and Dates. l’oreigner
and EH) from the back of their aunt‘s Morris Traveller every summer. it struck a tingly chord. The singles ‘Too Young‘. ‘liunky Squaredance’ and ‘If 1 liver Feel Better' even hung around the midriff of the charts probably longer than they should have — considering that this was a French band who weren‘t DJs with a penchant for segueing old film scores into dance floor tillers.
And then they disappeared. What happened. Branco'.’
‘Well. we toured fora couple of years. then it took two years to record this LP. We did it by ourselves in our own studio. we took our time. we had total freedom. which can sometimes be a little scary. But we used modern and old school equipment without prejudice: we used to be purists but now we don't care. It took us a long time because we really wanted to be happy with it. which meant we had to do our very
Branco has clearly been through this routine with every fawning music journalist that has spoken to him toda. lie breathes otit heavily and attempts to change the subject: 'You know we are coming to Scotland‘." I nod.
‘You know Glasgow audiences are the best audiences in the world. don‘t you‘.’ They are crazy. We played King Tut‘s once and Barrowland twice and you know sometimes I don‘t remember a thing about a gig btit I remember everything about those nights. Laurent Brancowitl. sighs into the l)eutschc afternoon hale.
King Tut’s, Glasgow, Mon 24 May.
All the brushes. thrushes and rushes in the wonderful world of musrc
NOT GOT TICKETS FOR T IN the Park? Never fear as there is no need to resort to those touts. Scarlet Mist is a website where 800 people advertised their unwanted Glastonbury tickets last year and sold them on to happy punters at face value and they’re doing the same for T in the Park this year. All Scarlet Mist asks is that you make a donation to one of four charities it has nominated. So, cheap ticket and clear conscience. See www.scarletmist.com for more.
THE EDINBURGH RUSH RETURNS for its third year from 22 May to 5 June with a bill of music. comedy. clubs. poetry and art from the cream of the city‘s underground. See the various listings sections for specific details and the preview in City Life on page 94.
LE WEEKEND FESTIVAL HAS also snuck in under the radar this issue. The four-day shindig of experimental music in Stirling brings New York free jazz legends Borbetomagus and Hamid Drake with a new trio to Scotland. See www.leweekendfestival.com for full line up details.
THOSE OF YOU UP FOR A BIT OF famous face spotting (ix/ell. kind of) should try the Phantom Planet gig at the Barfly on 25 May. The drummer is one Jason Schwartzman ipicturedl the geeky looking guy who starred in Rushmore and Spun, and singer Alexander Greenwald was also in Donnie Dar/<0. Their song ‘California' is the theme to Channel As The OC and they've had their album produced by god-like genius Dave Fridmann of Flaming Lips. Mogwai and Mercury Rev fame. which Suggests this might not be a miserable repeat of Keanu's bass wielding antic with his band Dogstar a few years back. We'll let yOLi know next iss‘ue.
WIN VIP TICKETS TO DOWNLOAD
Download Scotland, in association with Miller Genuine Draft, takes place on Glasgow Green, 2 & 3 June and features nine of the biggest names in rock, including Metallica and Iggy and the Stooges. We have a pair of VIP tickets and a pair of regular tickets to give away to lucky List readers. See page 11 for more info.
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