by Tim Den
From the moment I heard Phoenix (their Lost in Translation entry), I knew I was in love. Amid ’80s synths, hip hop beats, French pop sensibilities, and British folktronica aesthetics, there breathed an affectual, tender Motown soul that would make Stevie proud. Alphabetical, the quartet’s sophomore effort, sees these elements further their incestuous relationship, intertwining musical torsos and limbs to form one sexy-ass pop goddess. Sensual yet party-rific, tracks such as “Run Run Run” combine Beth Orton’s lilting acoustic stylings with thumbing beats, both airy and booty-shakin’. Even on “Love For Granted,” the album’s most vulnerable moment, vocalist Thomas Mars interjects suggestive “uuuhhnnn”s to keep THE FUNK from getting completely benched. The yin/yang is so wonderfully achieved, I can’t decide whether I want to dance or have sex to it. Hmmm.
Production-wise, it’s incredible that Alphabetical was self-produced and recorded. It’s just slick enough to sound monsterous, yet organic enough not to be sterile. Each element receives their treatment splendidly (the hip hop drums sound like they could be pulled from a Dilated Peoples record; the vocal harmonies could be straight outta Spilt Milk), yet none steps on the others’ toes. The current’s tug and sway somehow compliment instead of clash with each other. Marvelous.
Whether you’re mending a sour chest or raving the night away in a Tokyo club, Alphabetical is the name of the game. You will not be disappointed.