is tailor-made for Phoenix
's discography. Excluding their live album, each of the french ensemble's albums average just under 40 minutes long, feature 10 tracks, and contribute to their palatable pop-rock. They're very deserving of radio time, from 2006's "Long Distance Call" on It's Never Been Like That
to their latest single "J-Boy." However, what separates Ti Amo
from their history is a conscious effort to produce pop and relative dissonance simultaneously, something that is for the most part celebratory.
The first modulating moog hit on "J-Boy" serves as a metaphor for what Phoenix puts on the table. It's both consonant and incongruous, square and syncopated. Thomas Mars's spoken verses inverse his dreamy melodic chorus, and the outro's processed voice reciprocates Phoenix's notoriously tight rhythm section. Italian title track "Ti Amo" (I love you) features bongos and three other translations of the phrase in English, French, and Spanish. The band chose the setting of Italy and its language for many of the album's lyrics. Why? Perhaps as an escape. This album serves as a summer album, soundtracking freedom, the consumption of ice-cream (in this case gelato), and the ability to fall in love.
"Fior Di Latte" is the album's best track and one of the best of the year. The jingle guitar intro echoes The Smiths, The Replacements, and even New Order. It exudes youth, the libido, and permission to pretend your cell phone is a lighter and correspondingly sway it in the air. The off-beat percussion at the 2' mark will make any theorist smile, and the keyboard arpeggio outro and solo makes any listener jubilant. As Mars chants "We're meant to get it on," M83's Saturdays = Youth
comes to mind.
At times, Phoenix show off how formulaic their music and songwriting process really is, if it wasn't already apparent from their discography and aesthetic. "Tuttifrutti", "Fleur de Lys", and "Goodbye Soleil" flex very similar, funk infused, chromatic bass lines. Sometimes their timbre is almost too painless, such as the hook and chorus on "Lovelife" which thrives on a synthesized major scale.
Nevertheless, the Phoenix gang, again, did their job. Ti Amo
is both not what we expected but in the ballpark of what we hoped for. Despite a few repetitive tracks and a lack of a album centerpiece deep track (RIP "Love Like a Sunset," "Bankrupt!", and "North"), Ti Amo
Dear Phoenix, ti vogliamo bene (we love you).