Albums Of The Week

Music review: Phoenix's album Ti Amo is an unabashed ode to romance and Italy

Phoenix, a band from Versailles, France, comprise (from far left) Christian Mazzalai, Laurent Brancowitz, Thomas Mars and Deck d'Arcy.
Phoenix, a band from Versailles, France, comprise (from far left) Christian Mazzalai, Laurent Brancowitz, Thomas Mars and Deck d'Arcy.PHOTOS: GLASSNOTE

Electro-pop rockers Phoenix's album Ti Amo is an unabashed ode to Italy, romance and carefree days

The idea of frittering away a summer on a Mediterranean beach is a delicious proposition, made even more so in these quarrelsome times.

Trust Phoenix, the Versailles electro-pop rockers, to have diligently delivered anachronistic fun even when it was not considered cool in the louche, garage-punk days of the noughties. Ti Amo, their sixth album since their debut United 17 years ago, means "I love you" in Italian and is a glorious middle finger to terrorists, war-mongers, Brexiters and all those who want Europe to crumble and die.

Specifically, it extols a romanticised, cinematic notion of Italy - as paradise, refuge, getaway, as lensed in many a Merchant Ivory film with uptight protagonists whose passion is unleashed with a mere dint of the sun. It's as if the quartet are saying, hey, this is Europe, don't destroy it.

The title track is an unabashed disco anthem, "a romantic song about the tragedy of unreciprocated love and desire", as the band put it.

Elsewhere, beverages, desserts and all yummy liquids runneth over.

Fior Di Latte is a metaphor for, well, love-making. The music is a dreamy confection of springy guitars and sparkling percussion, as if buoyed on foamy waves.

  • SYNTH ROCK

  • TI AMO

    Phoenix

    Glassnote

    4/5 stars

Another pop doozie, Tuttifrutti, is a thoroughly carefree sojourn, exhorting the listener to go on a spree "thrashing motels" and smashing sandcastles.

"Wreck the spectacle you live in/Broken glass and porcelain," vocalist Thomas Mars sings. Amid slicked-up riffs and squelchy beats, could this pronouncement be a wink-wink allusion to the fragile dream of a united Europe?

Another piece of evidence: Role Model, a brilliant electro-rock zinger that ostensibly takes aim at a salesman, a snake-oil merchant, a politician or an authority figure who is pontificating loudly on a podium as a riot takes place close by. "Out of credit, did I hear you breathe out loud?" he wheezes over a febrile melody line driven by punchy drums and stellar keys. "Same old recital/A chameleon/ Disguised," he concludes, not missing a beat.

Such is the album's feel-good vibe, you'd be a misanthrope to resist Phoenix's charms.

Lovelife pinpoints the regret after a (Euro) break-up. But there are no hard feelings. Mars plays lovelorn Lancelot in this arcadia of sun-kissed riffs, promising: "I love you anyway."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2017, with the headline 'From Phoenix, with love'. Print Edition | Subscribe