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PHOENIX:: It’s Never Been Like That (Album Review)

It’s Never Been isn’t nearly as drab as you’d expect an album written and recorded in the austere confines of an East German bunker/studio to be. Though Thomas Mars’s lyrics are once again loaded with love malaise and classic French nihilism, the disc sounds downright jubilant considering its context. Perhaps self-conscious about their tendencies toward soft rock, Phoenix have stripped down their production to a more skeletal version of the overcooked choruses on Alphabetical and their slightly less overwrought first album, United. Tracks like Napoleon Says and Courtesy Laughs are compact bare-bones pop, and though you might have pangs for United’s enjoyable weirdness, It’s Never Been Like That is serious fun. (Review by: Jason Keller)