Bankrupt! by Phoenix

If you look at the pop-art artwork and listen to Phoenix's recent 10 mini epics, you get the feeling that they had it all planned out on their 2013 masterwork, Bankrupt!  And considering how such precise artistic visions have had a history of almost bankrupting labels (see Loveless by My Bloody Valentine), the title works, too. This is the kind of album that leaves you wondering if each song took five minutes, five hours, five days or five months to map out.  It's clear that Phoenix is talented, but the curious listener in me wonders if they are talented and efficient.  Just how brilliant are they? In the end, it doesn't matter because this fruit smoothie they have mixed is delicious and is indicative of a band that has studio know-how, instrumental prowess and a legitimate gift.  Bankrupt! is wonderful and exhilerating! 

Oh, and by the way—it's nice to hear actual songs in this electronic blender.

Bankrupt! by Phoenix 



The Marriage Of True Minds By Matmos

A missed opportunity—if there even was an opportunity, that is.  There's so much creativity and ambition here.  And you know something? That is awesome and we need to encourage some of the most talented artists to take a lesson from Matmos's uncompromisingly, inventive artistry.  We do—we really, really do.  Unfortunately, if Matmos has any talent, they aren't showing a lot of it on The Marriage Of True Minds.  

It wouldn't kill them to write a song or two.  Or, maybe it would.  Maybe their songwriting capabilities are so inept that this blend of club music, which sounds like it was recorded in rainforest in outer space, is the only kind of art they are capable of making.  If so, they definitely have a future in crafting unbelievable productions for seriously talented artists.  However, if Marriage is the only sort of thing they intend on making, it isn't very compelling music.  At its best, it sounds supremely incandescent.  At worst, it sounds like a teenager is experimenting with layering beats, effects and voice transformers in Garageband while reciting some very pitiful poetry.

Maybe I'm being too hard on this duo.  After all, they're not trying to be Neil Diamond.  But, I'll say it again, it wouldn't kill them to write a song or two.  If they attempted to make a few "songs" a bit more direct, it might make their pretentious monologues about triangles feel a bit less infuriating and a bit more interesting.

But, again, maybe I'm being too hard on this duo.  After all, this is one of those special albums where there is no rule book.  I have no problem with those kind of artists—if they're really good.  But, there are plenty of more talented rule breakers who you should listen to before Matmos.

Despite some very exciting moments—and there are a few here and there—The Marriage Of True Minds feels too bland too much of the time.  So, I can't recommend it.  But, a lot of critics do.  So, take a listen and let me know what's up.  

The Marriage Of True Minds By Matmos