It’s been nearly four years since Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix hit shelves and thrust Phoenix’s catchy, synth-driven anthems onto the North American masses. On its follow-up, the French popsters deliver an album worthy of its hype, despite the relative lack of huge standout singles. As a whole, Bankrupt! is perhaps Phoenix’s most cohesively catchy recording to date; in place of Wolfgang’s slower, almost ambient moments, we get a full album’s worth of tightly wound, high-energy offerings that play off of the band’s most beloved hits (“1901,” “Listzomania”). Early standout “S.O.S. in Bel Air” feeds off a whip-crack electronic drumbeat that builds and retreats; when frontman Thomas Mars hits the chorus’s climax at minute 1:24, you almost can’t help but chant along. That Bankrupt!’s title track is also its curveball — a seven-minute, Tangerine Dream–channeling number awash in swirling synths — speaks to why this band continues to delight; Phoenix pens a mean hook, but manages to make the experimental downright listenable, too.


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