By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
They're not really blastingthe music just jams and distorts more than in Phoenix's casually styled although well-put-together studio productions. But Phoenix still provide what they have become lonely masters of in today's CD universe: pop-rock sorcery that doesn't overdo the magic. Unlike so many charm merchants, Phoenix approach snappy dance songs such as "Everything Is Everything" and the supernal "Too Young" as if they were lean Chuck Berry tunes. Similarly, when Phoenix veer into the rocking ("Victim of the Crime") or the Bacharach-esque ("[You Can't Blame It on] Anybody"), smoke or velour never obtrudes.
Phoenix just play their varied music lucidly and with emotion, the same way singer Thomas Mars's unclassifiable pop-rock tenor doesn't sound French but also doesn't affect the American or the British. Phoenix have a curatorial sensibility, yet it unfolds with no vibe-killing theory or officiousness. Phoenix are not style houndsthey're mystics, like people who glimpse the history of civilization in baseball cards: For them, a dancebeat is just a dancebeat, a struggle is just a struggle, and singing and moving about in time only beautifully suggests that all these careful choices are, like lots of other effortless and difficult stuff, real.
Phoenix play Irving Plaza April 5.