It's Never Been Like That Import
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Having established themselves as both media darlings and favorites with alternative music fans everywhere, Phoenix continue their genre-hopping explorations with their third and most direct album to date. It's Never Been Like That features ten perfectly crafted soulful rock songs with a hint of Americana and the occasional nod to the `80s-inflected stylings of their 2000 debut United. Phoenix will be devoting plenty of time to their American release campaign including tour dates, advance press, online and radio promotions with the additional benefit of an artist development list price.
Warning: Even limited exposure to this French band's music is liable to turn the listener into a crazed zealot desperate to "just turn people on" to their music or to wander about aimlessly wondering aloud why they're not at least as well known as, say, Erlend Oye. The band's been relentlessly eclectic since they formed in the late '90s; they make hybrid music, an electronic-flavored rock that's impossible to describe without using up half a dozen hyphens in the process. It's their most straight-ahead, "rock"-sounding release, and if your first thought is that it wouldn't hurt if It's Never Been Like That had a little bit more of a cocaine disco unicorn vibe to it, give it another listen. This record is an effortless-sounding, mini-masterpiece that mixes art song elements with delightful retro-pop. And it's scary how simply and truly great it is--easily amongst the best albums of 2006. --Mike McGonigal --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This is an amazing album, from start to finish. Previous releases "United" and "Alphabetical" were fantasic albums, too, but their ambition outweighed their purpose. That sounds like it might be a good thing, and in many ways it was, but the frailty of "their sound" meant that the textures were always shifting, different from song to song, in a way that kept them from feeling whole.
With "It's Never Been Like That" Phoenix have found their legs to stand on, and developed a sound that manages to evoke all that they've ever been, but at the same time remain completely themselves. This isn't mood music, or something to leave in the background. This is joyous, celebratory, "sing along with your window rolled down" driving music.
This album is rock and pop, get up and dance, sit down and nod. It's everything music should be, played with breathless enthusiasm, yet somehow seeming effortless. Though I risk over-selling it to the point of disappointment, I'm willing to take that risk. These songs will plant their hooks into your brain, and you won't want them to leave.
+ Consolation Prizes
+ Courtesy Laughs
+ Sometimes In The Fall
Getting back to my comment about "Return To Cookie Mountain"... I am personally startled that this disc by TV On The Radio is as highly praised by critics and fans as it is. I commented that you should allow an album to grow on you in order to fully understand it and appreciate it, but after more than 10 times listening to "Return To Cookie Mountain", I an still wondering how it is possible that quality albums like "It's Never Been Like That" could get overshadowed by that album.
Standouts like Rally and One Time Too Many show the bands confidence and ability to know when to layout or build up to strengthen the feel of the song.
My only complaint would be that many of the songs seem truncated right as they might be well served by a real release or extended coda. That said, it gives one a good reason to play it again and again.