Leisure Suit Luis
It’s been a long time now since the 2000s. Alternative music, in many ways, has stayed the same. But the KROQ brand of Postal Service-y sunshine indie has long since run its course — at least for the time being. How can a band from this time stay relevant and interesting? On their new album, Ti Amo, it is clearer than ever: The Strokes have still got it.
Okay, okay, that was too easy to ignore after the third time mistaking Phoenix’s new style of synth-y falsetto with a hint of electric guitar licks for the band that figured out this style five years ago. This can be applied to more than a few tracks on the album, namely “Ti Amo” and “Tuttifrutti.” But as the opening synth on “J-Boy” proves when it starts the album off with a ballsy, dark tone akin to, surprisingly, Björk’s “Army of Me,” it is clear that Phoenix are open to experimentation. And that’s really all one can ask for, because Phoenix prove on Ti Amo that it’s okay to use a form that is already proven to work well. That’s what pop music does every day of the week. One just needs to be interesting on top of it.
Where Ti Amo shines is in the openings of its songs. Every time listeners think they have it figured out, Phoenix switch up the recognizable sound: the aforementioned “J-Boy” synth, the misty dreaming on “Love Life,” and, most show-stopping of all, the staccato Hispanic flair of the “Goodbye Soleil” intro. And guess what? It works! These French boys worked in elements from the last Muñoz family reunion, and it actually continues to evolve the funky Chromeo vibes into a loving cheeseball daydream. And the sleazy, beeping hits don’t stop there, proving that one can count Phoenix out, but they still have the entertainment chops to evolve their sound and present new ideas — something that The Strokes themselves, really, haven’t done much of in a while.