Three and a Half Stars
French alt-rock band Phoenix grew its following in the U.S. thanks to its excellent 2009 album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix." That release had them sounding a little more poppy, and closer to music from The Strokes or The Killers, than in the past. "Bankrupt!," the band's fifth studio album, is of that ilk, as well. And while it might not have a recognizable hit that jumps out at you like "1901," "Bankrupt!" is, top to bottom, a more solid album.
"S.O.S. In Bel Air" feels frantic, yet controlled. "Trying To Be Cool" stays true to the song's name with its relaxed vibe.
That song leads into one of the more interesting ventures on "Bankrupt!," the album's title track. For nearly seven minutes, Phoenix offers an instrumental songscape that has several twists and turns. It's not Pink Floyd, but it's darn close.
After a somewhat slow start, the song also marks where Phoenix truly hits its stride on this album.
The jagged "Drakkar Noir" flows right into the swaying "Chloroform" without missing a beat. Instead of burdening the listener with another seven-minute song, Phoenix breaks it up into two smaller doses that can stand on their own as well as work together.
"Bankrupt!" might not have the bouncy Phoenix songs that were featured on "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix," but the band and this album is better off for it.