Alpha Zulu – Phoenix ★★★

2022Alpha ZuluPhoenix★★★63RockIndie PopSynthpop

On Alpha Zulu, Phoenix gives you exactly what they’re supposed to — fun, upbeat tracks with catchy choruses, soaring synths, kind of weird lyrics and a blend of guitar effects and electronic bleeps and clicks that all result in a really colorful record. 

The title track opens the record and feels a little low energy at first but the kookiness with the vocal effects makes it work and get stuck in your ear. 

“Tonight” brings an almost perfect vocal pairing together. Thomas Mars and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig’s summery vocals and energy match so well, it’s kind of hard to think the duo haven’t worked together in the past. It feels so natural, and the repetitive guitar riffs and syncopated percussion build up into a fabulous and playful chorus that makes it one of the best songs of the year.  

“After Midnight” provides a similar styled song but brings more Bankrupt! synths that kind of elevate it above some of the others on the record. “Identical,” which was released as a single back in 2021, closes out the album with another solid synth-pop rocker. 

 “The Only One” and “Artefact” are fine, classic Phoenix songs that don’t particularly stand out but get the job done. “Winter Solstice” sounds interesting and adds some balance to the record but falls a little flat, as does “All Eyes on Me” as a dance track that’s a little too slow or contrived to work fully and feels the most like the more poppy, kind of corny aspects of Ti Amo that turned me off of their 2017 release a little bit.  

Overall though, it’s a good, balanced record that’s easy to listen to beginning to end. It doesn’t reach the heights of 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix or 2000’s United, but does enough to make me worth your while, especially after a five-year break between records.


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