harpersbazaar.com.au, April 2013
The Parisians, who also wrote the soundtrack for Somewhere, the 2010 film by Sofia Coppola (singer Thomas Mars’s partner), drew inspiration from the screen, childhood nostalgia and a heavy bout of experimentation. The result? A beautifully cinematic groove that could easily be the soundtrack to an ’80s sci-fi flick.
“We never write songs on tour, we get inspiration from everywhere and just take notes. And we end up with so many books of notes”, guitarist Christian Mazzali recently told me. “So we had to try them out – all these different instrumentations and themes.”
After being locked away for three months to experiment in a New York studio, Mazzalai admits it turned out to be a yearning for home that emerged as the four-piece’s biggest influence. “We were homesick and so we watched a lot of French movies from our youth — that was a big inspiration. We discovered and re-discovered many French musicians too, so that was very important for us. I’m not sure if you can hear it, but to us it’s very French and it comes from our childhood.”
Don’t be mistaken, Phoenix are anything but stuck in the past; this collage-like, layered record is facing forward with a fresh sound that is sure to divide audiences. “We have to write selfishly and as pure[ly] as possible,” explains Mazzalai. “If you are trying to please everyone, they say you are artistically dead — you just can’t [do that] and create new things.” An interesting balance between novelty and nostalgia pushes the band towards the future. “Finding the thrill, like the first time I played a guitar,” continues Mazzalai. “To find that thrill, you have to find new areas to explore.”
Bankrupt! is out now.