“Alpha Zulu”: the revival of Phoenix is ​​not likely to disappoint you

Reconnecting with the original vein of “United” in 2000, the Versailles quartet delivers a seventh high-flying album, containing several unstoppable hits. “The Only One”, as Thomas Mars sings.

“Thomas, Deck, Branco and Christian are committed to the age-old system of ten tracks per album, like the three-act play. The perfect album was invented by two sides of a vinyl. Their manicness is so French, but they sublimate this character, clinging to insane references”. confided to us Philippe Zdar before the release of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009), the national breakthrough and international crowning achievement for Phoenix and its Grammy-winning producer.

With or without (late) success, the Versailles quartet has never changed one iota in its melomania or in its principles of fraternal union, of trade secrets – Phoenix in the studio is Fort Knox. Because before becoming the “best-French-group-in-the-world”, Phoenix had already designed its first album, United (2000), like fireworks, bringing together all his musical obsessions (from the Beach Boys to Teenage Fanclub, from Lou Reed to Urge Overkill), all his sound dreams, all his production fantasies (Funky Squaredance, audacious piece in three parts that has become a must in concert).

“We choose the pieces carried by the exaltation”

Without the late genius Philippe Zdar, their sound brother who, more or less, was present on all the group’s records for twenty years, Thomas Mars, Laurent Brancowitz, Christian Mazzalai and Deck D’Arcy had to reinvent themselves, doubly even, given the pandemic context that we know – for obvious health constraints, Thomas was stranded across the Atlantic while his companions worked in their studio fitted out in a deserted Museum of Decorative Arts.

To the point of recording their very first track remotely, the marvelous Winter Solstice – as well as the duo Tonight with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. And if this new album was finally unveiled at the end (Same, recorded for the soundtrack of the film On the Rocks by Sofia Coppola, released in 2020), it materialized before the summer with the release of the sparkling single Alpha Zulu, coinciding with Phoenix’s stage return to France and Spain. “We choose the pieces carried by the exaltation”, confessed to us in chorus the four inseparable last month, before flying off for a new American tour.

Unstoppable set of aces

“They are always different, they are always the same” (“they’re always different, they’re always the same”), summarized John Peel about The Fall. And it’s exactly the same feeling you get when listening to the ten tracks ofAlpha Zulu, with the impression of already knowing them by heart so much their melodic obviousness, coupled with a vocal familiarity, makes sense.

We could also challenge the most devious, finicky or even refractory ear (we still know some in 2022!) not to succumb immediately to After Midnight, Artifact and The Only One, unstoppable set of aces that contains all of Phoenix’s DNA. “How can I be the only one?”, asks Thomas Mars about this last atomic tube. The answer is in the question.

Alpha Zulu (Loyalty/Glassnote/ A+LSO/Sony Music). Released November 4. Concerts on November 28 and 29 in Paris (L’Olympia).


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