Indie synth pop that suggests summer like a popsicle. Relies on lead singer Thomas Mars’ ability to effortlessly shift from his normal vocal range to a falsetto and back as he trips lightly through the melodies. I have no idea what the reference to “Bankrupt!” is — with the band headlining one show after another, the band members’ bankbooks have to be healthier than ever!
Recommended: 9, 1, 3, 10, and 2. No FCCs.
1. (3:40) Entertainment — Asian-influenced keyboards. Galloping drums. Bright vocals. Swelling synth waves. The 1st single ***
2. (3:23) The Real Thing — Mid-tempo. Mars’ lead vocals flow effortlessly between his normal vocal range and falsetto. Synths echo the vocals and build into a wall of sound near the end. **
3. (3:43) S.O.S. in Bel Air — Another high-energy tune galloping along. Fast-to-slow changes. Synths are intricately layered to deliver the precise sounds required — from playful loops to telegraph-like sounds in chorus. ***
4. (3:48) Trying to be Cool — Easy-going groove really mimics an 80s vibe. Some guy strutting his stuff as he heads to a club on another weekend, bolstered by his “mint julep testosterone.”
5. (6:57) Bankrupt! — Epic length. Performed in three parts. 1) Tinkly bed and flute-like tones over thumping drum; 2) Waves of distortion clash as the tinkling bells become more urgent; 3) Tension resolves and Mars’ resigned, melancholy vocals seem to be about divorce. Worth playing to see if you like it.
6. (3:22) Drakkar Noir — Straight-ahead, 1980s electro-pop. Swirling synths. Banging drums are added about two-thirds of the way through.
7. (4:05) Chloroform — Note progression echoes previous track, but at much slower tempo. Lots of synth layers. Fuzzy synth bass under. Resolves to brighter ending.
8. (3:16) Don’t — Bouncy, catchy, up-tempo indie pop. Varied dynamics and fast-to-slow shifts in typical Phoenix style.
9. (4:53) Bourgeois — Starts with a little noise (a lighter?) and then a very slow fade in. Electro-tinged power pop. Great changes in dynamics. Strong vocals. ***
10. (3:31) Oblique City — Bright, up-tempo tune with busy synth shifts and a slight Cars’ feel. Synth layers build to a wall of sound in the choruses **