There’s a New Phoenix Song and I Have Listened To It Twenty Times

“There is a part of me that wants Phoenix to never change.”

1. “Entertainment”! Oh my god!

2. Ahhhhhh!! Oh my GOD!

3. Okay, okay, okay.

4. Maybe this song isn’t that spectacular. It certainly doesn’t have the immediacy of “1901,” which I was already declaring the Song of the Summer after hearing the first 30 seconds. “Entertainment” is certainly a good song, but is it a great one? I better listen to it some more.

5. Without straying far from the tree, “Entertainment” feels bolder and more confident than anything the band has ever released.

6. This is definitely a Phoenix song. And that is a good thing. “Entertainment” especially feels like it could belong on the band’s last album (and, in my opinion, crowning achievement), Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It still charges ahead and plays to the band’s strengths: swift melodies and a smart balance between each instrument.

7. Phoenix may be the most focused pop band of all time. There’s a sense, since their third album It’s Never Been Like That, that Phoenix has a very specific idea of how they want a song to sound. Each successive album is a step closer to that ideal. Their progress feels iterative, which is perhaps why some complain that too many Phoenix albums sound alike. If “Entertainment” is indicative of the rest of their new album Bankrupt!, those naysayers will continue to be disappointed.

8. There is a part of me that wants Phoenix to never change.

9. Some of the stranger divergences in Phoenix’s career have actually been their biggest missteps. “Funky Squaredance” on United is a meandering mess, equal parts brilliant and annoying. The bland march of “Napoleon Says” is the band’s worst album opener. Even on the nearly flawless Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, the instrumentally driven parts of “Love Like a Sunset” feel skippable.


10. I saw Phoenix play a couple years ago in Seattle. In concert, they’re clearly perfectionists — not a single note sounded out of place — but the show still felt very much alive. The same could be said about their studio material: for songs that are clearly so meticulously crafted, there is a sense of effortlessness to them. Anyway, I think “Entertainment” will be really good live.

11. The drumwork is especially reminiscent of Wolfgang: simple, heavy on the bass, and bold on fills.

12. Actually, the drum part sounds like “Listzomania” meets “Girlfriend.”

13. The space-y synths are effective, but they work better as a subtle touch rather than the centerpiece of the song. In particular, the synths are most powerful in the swelling moments leading into the chorus.

14. The interplay between the two guitars is very reminiscent of “1901.” In fact, the entire song construction mirrors it exactly.

15. Where “Entertainment” fails to meet the brilliance of “1901″ is in the hook, which is far from Phoenix’s strongest. The instrumentation fades, leaving singer Thomas Mars to croon “I’d rather be alone” before the synths take over. Phoenix songs work better when Mars is racing ahead, pulling the listener along with him.

16. What the hell is this song about? I forgot that Thomas Mars can’t really write lyrics.

17. Still, it’s hard to pick apart a Phoenix song piece by piece. Everything about the band feels so tight.

18. I’m actually coming around on “Entertainment.” Maybe this is an excellent song? On play number eighteen, the song has endured, which is maybe the best test of any pop song.

19. Yeah, this is a great song.

20. Song of the Summer 2013!

Kevin Nguyen is a founding editor of The Bygone Bureau. His only marketable skill is an above-average knowledge of European geography. He has been useless since the introduction of the atlas in 1477. Reach him by email or follow his Twitter account.