Phoenix broke through in 2009 with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, which positioned the French quartet as the sort of hipsters that The Strokes failed to become, adepts of tight, twisty rhythms and semi-serious new wave and soft-rock references. Bankrupt! is cut from the same cloth. Songs surge along with tumbling beats and intricately precise riffs while motifs like the kitschy Chinese melody in “Entertainment” artfully recur.

But Phoenix suffer the hipster’s vice of not wanting to commit themselves. Mars’s English-language lyrics are nonsensical (“Jingle jungle/Jingle jungle before you stumble,” runs a typical apercu) while the accumulation of musical effects tips into incoherence on the aimless finale “Oblique City”.

Phoenix

Bankrupt!

(Atlantic)

Get alerts on Arts when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.
Reuse this content (opens in new window)

Follow the topics in this article