Wednesday 14 June 2017

Phoenix - Ti Amo

Phoenix - Ti Amo

Phoenix's sixth album feels like a love letter to Europe. Something of a concept album, this is a French band singing in multiple European languages while dreaming of a romanticised life in Italy. That explains the title then.

The band have described a dream of Roman summers, of "hyper-light, hyper-clarity" and gelato, which all comes out in the pure emotions at the heart of each song. In fact, it's gelato that's heavily referenced (the track Fior Di Latte, a popular Italian flavour, uses it as a metaphor for sex), but there are plenty of other food and drink references amongst other nods to Italian culture. The album is a bright celebration of Italy, and like gelato it's a light, sweet confection that's smooth, cool, and refreshing in the summer.

That summer is the heat of a Europe in political turmoil. The balm is 'Ti Amo': a sonic haven to remind us of the joys of Europe, of beautiful food, lazy walks along the beach with lovers, gently licking a cone of gelato as the Mediterranean sea laps at our feet.

This imagery is concocted with a pan-European sound, fusing 70's Italo-disco with French laissez-faire cool. Synth-rock guitars, driving beats and video game bloops and sparkles dominate through the filter of vibrant polished pop, falsetto vocals occasionally speckled with auto-tune singing breezy melodies. The intricate sounds of opener J-Boy set the scene, while the silliness of Tuttifrutti (which recalls 'Bankrupt!'s Trying To Be Cool), the erupting chorus of Role Model, and the delicately evocative Via Veneto are all highlights. The aforementioned Fior Di Latte makes for a dusky, sensual slow jam and the shuffling Goodbye Soleil is the essence of cool.

The album is perhaps a little too laidback for its own good, tailing off towards the end. Recorded in Paris to the backdrop of terrorism and a refugee crisis, the political lyrics sometimes jar with the gossamer production. And the title track is lyrically a little uncomfortable: "open up your legs...don't tell me no," coos singer Thomas Mars as he bemoans unrequited love.

Still, 'Ti Amo' takes a dash of Metronomy's 'The English Riviera', a sprinkle of fellow Frenchmen Daft Punk and Air, and a whole dose of sunshine. The flavour is delicious.


Listen: 'Ti Amo' is out now.