PHOENIX play the Grove Music Festival August 3. See listing. Rating: NNN
Growing up in Versailles, Phoenix learned a thing or two about the bougie life. Their fifth album is full of references to the aspirational - cheap cologne, cruise ships, Cristal, California - that paint a bemused portrait of modern society's obsession with ostentatious wealth and mediocrity.
It could easily come off as obnoxiously sardonic if the French rockers, who demonstrated serious pop songwriting mettle on 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, weren't so earnest and meticulous. An ambitious and aggressively lavish album, Bankrupt! is layered to the hilt with vintage synth riffs, thundering drum fills and stadium-sized choruses that cleverly mimic the ridiculous excesses they explore. At times it's even kitschy.
But despite the flashy production values and singer Thomas Mars's wispy croon, it ultimately feels as superficial as its subject matter.
Like a cruise or cheap cologne, Bankrupt! will suffice as a bit of summer fun.
Top track: Chloroform