The slyly referential MOR-pop of Phoenix has, in part, staked it's effectiveness on the reclaiming of unfashionable music styles of yore. From electro-inflected country & western ditties to airy, synth-heavy soft-rock, the group's giddy embrace of all that's considered schlock--retouching the results to a fine point with crisp, modern production and a hip, young attitude--ascended them to the status of postmodern pop auteurs par excellence. WOLFGANG AMADEUS PHOENIX, the band's fourth album, further refines their approach, reining in the scattershot, darts-to-the-wall tactics of the past to reveal some of the most vibrantly melodic and robust songwriting of their career. The album kicks off with the bouncy, feel good rave-up "Lisztomania," a song whose, mostly, nonsense lyrics singer Thomas Mars imbues with convincing stylistic panache. The only song that deviates from the album's revved-up and stylized pop perfection is the plangent, nearly eight-minute, epic "Love Like a Sunset," which explores the shoegazery melodrama of groups like M83.
Rolling Stone (p.72) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "The 10 songs are sleek and clean....'Fences' spikes the electro beat of Daft Punk with an urgent acoustic-guitar breakdown for splendidly danceable melancholy."
Spin (p.94) - "These arch Frenchmen make precision-tooled pop that somehow retains a sense of urgency and playfulness -- an impressive balancing act..."
Spin (p.33) - Ranked #3 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2009" -- "Urgent guitar pop and buoyant melodies cohabited brilliantly with Euro-disco propulsion..."
Entertainment Weekly (p.62) - "[T]he Versailles-bred foursome actually possess one of the purest pop aesthetics on either side of the Atlantic....The underlying vibe is both retro and somehow outside of time..." -- Grade: A-
Alternative Press (p.130) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n absolute blast, rich in ringing guitar and euphoric synths....The expansive, two-part 'Love Like A Sunset' evokes strains of '70s prog-disco."
CMJ - "The band's brand of glamorous electronic-tinged pop is mixed with twee plinks here and there, supplemented with airy keys and a futuristic spaceship feel that will be pleasing to both clubbers and concert-goers alike."
Billboard (p.53) - "The group has polished its '60s-rock-revivalist sound to near perfection, but keeps expanding its aural palette, experimenting with layered rhythms and sonic textures."
Q (Magazine) (p.130) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It may be oversimplifying to invoke the spirit of Radiohead, but this could be Phoenix's OK Computer and Kid A rolled into one."
Paste (magazine) (p.53) - "Thomas Mars sings with the urgency of Of Montreal's Kevin Barnes, and his band plays with a Killers-like accessibility."
Pitchfork (Website) - "[T]he album's 10 songs are arranged and executed with virtuoso pop-rock precision....Its unflappable sonic sheen gives WOLFGANG some winsome 80s nostalgia..."