Phoenix: Deck D'Arcy, Laurent Brancowitz, Thomas Mars, Jr., Christian Mazzalai.
Additional personnel: Junior Carrera (guitar); Eddie Efira (pedal steel); Sandrine Longuet (harp); Hugo Ferran (saxophone); Andrew Crocker (trumpet); Patrick Sherlock (trombone); Camile Baz Baz (Hammond organ); Jean Phillipe Dary, Rob (Clavinet); Thomas Bangalter, Pedro Winter (synthesizer); Marlon (drums); Cubain (percussion); Julia, Oliza (background vocals); The Love Choral Society, The Arcysian Vocal Ensemble, The Hector Berlioz Choir.
The 2000 debut from the French band Phoenix gleefully combines the electronic-laced melodicism of their fellow countrymen Air with the sensibilities of 1980s UK pop (in the mode of China Crisis and Prefab Sprout) and imbues the results with a dance-floor sensibility. Toss in a bit of classic '70s stadium rock and tongue-in-cheek country, and you have UNITED, a Frankenstein's monster of a record, guaranteed to have something to please nearly any ear.
Vocalist Thomas Mars's fey, thickly accented singing lends an appealing vulnerability that is most evident on the record's most infectious track, the glass-smooth "Too Young" (which was handpicked by Sofia Coppola for inclusion in her 2003 film, LOST IN TRANSLATION). "If I Ever Feel Better" recalls an edgier version of the slick funk-pop of Level 42, while "Party Time," is a two-minute would-be punk rave-up. The riskiest track, the nine-minute "Funky Squaredance," opens with a loping vocoder-treated verse, only to morph into a dance number punctuated by heavy-metal guitar breaks. Capped off by cover art mimicking a hard-rock LP circa 1984, UNITED makes musical schizophrenia a true asset.
Rolling Stone (10/26/00, p.114) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Pure genius....leaving some fantastic impressions..."
Spin (10/00, pp.176-7) - 7 out of 10 - "...They've got diverse record collections they've dissected down to the runoff grooves, employ vintage analog toys, and shift between sincerity and irony like a scratch DJ flipping a cross-fader..."
CMJ (9/18/00, p.23) - "...Dance-rock inspired by '80s club culture. Feel-good pop hooks, bouncy lyrics and lush textures are held together by keen production work..."
Mojo (Publisher) (7/00, p.114) - "...A highly perplexing yet curiously compelling outing that sounds like a random dip into any FM station circa 1986....Rock on."