Judging by their fourth album's title and its lead single 'Lisztomania', it wouldn't be unreasonable to suggest that Phoenix have become a bit preoccupied with classical music. Their well-heeled Versailles background further enforces the suggestion, although it's never impacted on their rich pop sound in the past. Fans of their easygoing musings can rest assured, though - there's no trace of Mozart, Liszt, or any other classical superstar here, although it certainly would have made things a little fruitier.
Their last album, 2006's 'It's Never Been Like That', hardly made the French quartet a household name, but its glorious jangly groove did nudge them further toward the mainstream and set them up nicely for potential world domination with album #4. While 'Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix' isn't as bad as its title or its terrible artwork suggests, it's unfortunately a lot less effective than their previous material.
Another short album - ten songs spread across 37 minutes - this is a record that tiptoes around a number of ideas without fully immersing itself in any of them, and subsequently lacks any real focus, bite or memorable track. There's plenty of blustering pop rattles that shuffle underwhelming around Mars's voice - incidentally, he's never sounded so bored - and plenty of obligatory sketchy electronica squiggles here and there, but the big choruses and clever, sharp songwriting that Phoenix excel at are largely omitted.
Dreamy, '80s disco-referencing number 'Rome', the punchy 'Lasso' and the fuzzy amble of instrumentals 'Love Like A Sunset (Pt. 1 and 2)', are about the most interesting tracks here - but from a band we expect so much more than something to tap your foot to, it's something of a slight disappointment overall.