By Chris Pacifico

Okay, so we all know this scenario. You or someone you know are at a party and hear a song come through the speakers. Be it new or old, it still has a pop edge to it and you love it so and you’re a somewhat tipsy. So when that said song comes on you start singing it and grooving out to it but there is always that one part of the song be it a hook, bridge, or breakdown when you tell everyone: “Oh wait! Shhh! I love this part!” and go on acting a fool singing it but you love it so much that you don’t care how ridiculous you look. That’s kind of what every song on It’s Never Been Like That, the third effort from Parisian quartet Phoenix sounds like. They just won’t leave your head. And even if their brand of mellow and sometimes cuddly pop isn’t your cup of tea it will no doubt sink into your psyche someway or another.

Phoenix puts the laid back French aesthetic and easy going infusion and the good life is showcased here as their sound is redolent of a modern day Hall & Oats (minus the bad hairdos) with a hipster cherry on top. Their music is ubiquitous with chic struts and rhythmic sashays, perfect for places with shag carpets where the people are still wearing bell bottoms. This album is probably on Austin Powers iPod. It’s Never Been Like That shines with oh-so-cool sunshine pop ditties like “Consolation Prizes” and even contains grooves for rainy days such as “Rainy”. Singer Thomas Mars croons in a tepid ballad like fashion with a somewhat skewed sense of warmth, like Todd Rundgren did in the early 70’s but with Phoenix’s own brand of soft pop/rock, which isn’t in any way mushy. The melodies also tend to be as infectious as they are peppy and refreshing. At times, Phoenix comes off as if Belle and Sebastian was the resident band at a swanky lounge along the Champs-Elysees, be it with the sticky organ licks of “Long Distance Call” or the nominal post-disco trot of “Courtesy Laughs”.

Escargots may be tasty pending they’re cooked right and the Cirque de Soleil may be enjoyable only if you’re high, but Phoenix seems to always be of good taste.

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shainhouse starstarstarstarstar Thu 8/3/2006 06:44AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

I really like this record. Simple pop songs that are so endearing and electric. Well written review as well.