Can’t say I saw it coming, but Phoenix has started looking curiously like the biggest band in the world. Check their Lollapalooza headlining slot, the surprise collab with R. Kelly, and the roughly 7,000 commercials featuring their singles “1901” or “Lisztomania.” Bankrupt!, the fifth release by the Parisian quartet, is the record meant to reflect this newfound bigness, carrying the momentum of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix into the stratosphere — bigger synths, glossier production and radio-ready beats. Well, there is a small snag in that plan: they forgot to write any hooks. Nothing in the album sticks, its songs so slick that they just sort of slide by without a passing notice. It’s not just that Phoenix fail to match past singles — they never hit on anything close. Even Wolfgang deep cuts like “Lasso” or “Countdown” run circles around everything in here. Now there’s nothing bad per se about Bankrupt!; it certainly is bouncy, color by numbers pop-rock. But Phoenix is capable of more, and, by their own high standards, the new album is a clear disappointment, the by-product of a band that shot for the stars, but forgot to load the gun.
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