The only problem with releasing a wildly successful album is that you're eventually expected to not only follow it up but to eclipse it. Such was the case for Phoenix. The French band's last release Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix topped practically every 'Best of' list at the end the year. Naturally, expectation was quite high for the eventual follow-up.
"Does Bankrupt! hit the heights of its predecessor?" is the question that every critical review of the album will attempt to address and the simple answer to that query is "no", but that's not to say that it isn't a pretty decent album in its own right.
Bankrupt! wears its pop identity firmly on its sleeve. The brooding, darker elements of Wolfgang, like 'Love Like A Sunset' for example, have been eschewed in favour a more streamlined, pristine sound and, while this isn't necessarily a negative thing, it is deficient of one of the dimensions that made the last album such a momentous achievement.
This isn't to say that Phoenix have reinvented themselves, or anything. Far from it. 'The Real Thing' is among the best songs Phoenix have ever released. 'S.O.S. In Bel Air' and 'Trying To Be Cool' are foot-tappingly catchy.
Bankrupt! is a very good album, of that there's no doubt, but pales in comparison to its older, more sophisticated big brother.
Review by John Balfe | Rating: Three Stars