New Recordings

Phoenix: "Bankrupt!"
Phoenix: "Bankrupt!"
Posted: April 29, 2013



(V2 ***)

Phoenix achieved commercial breakthrough with the 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, fueled by the inclusion of their song "1901" in a Cadillac commercial. How can you tell that the sleek, synth-happy, French power-popsters are diffident about their success? Now that they've won wealth and fame, they've chosen to call their fifth album Bankrupt!, in part to point out the hollowness of it all. And they've stuck the seven-minute, momentum-killing title track smack in the middle of their 10-song collection, just so you know that life is full of miseries when you're not hanging out with R. Kelly at Coachella.

But the general sense of ennui that suffuses songs like "Trying to Be Cool" and "Chloroform" isn't an impediment to enjoying the pleasures of Bankrupt! A lot of it has to do with that exclamation point. The Thomas Mars-led quartet can act blasé all they want, going on about "fake rituals" and acting as though they feel all alone while swilling champagne after the party. But this is a band that is very, very good at making effusive, catchy, bright-and-shiny pop music you can dance to. So even when Mars is being snide, and mocking a cologne-drenched jerk in "Drakkar Noir" ("How come everyone knows you before they meet you?") the music is cheerfully ingratiating, and tough to resist.

- Dan DeLuca

Michael Bublé

To Be Loved

(Reprise ***)

To have Michael Bublé singing Frank Sinatra's latter-day finest - and on the label Old Blue Eyes started - would either bring a smile to the Chairman's lips or cause him to turn in his grave. Luckily, for us, for Bublé, and for Frank, it's the former.

After making records of standard-bearing Tin Pan Alley songs since 2001, the cheery, clear-voiced Canadian has learned subtlety and nuance when tackling the master's procession of romantic hits. Not a lot of nuance, and not enough to make you forget Frank's versions of "You Make Me Feel So Young," "Nevertheless I'm in Love with You," or the sleepy "Young at Heart," but enough to make them sassy and singularly Bublé-esque. Some may want to dislike his bubbly pairing with actress Reese Witherspoon on the dad-and-daughter-Nancy-duet "Something Stupid," but it's disarmingly charming. So too is Bublé's own co-composition, "It's a Beautiful Day," a charismatic ditty (the same can't be said for his teaming with Bryan Adams for the rote "After All").

Beyond Sinatra hits and Bublé's own compositions, it's Scotty Wiseman's country-ish classic "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You," in which Bublé shows the most swagger.

- A.D. Amorosi

Iggy & the Stooges

Ready To Die

(Fat Possum ***)

The first time Iggy Pop reunited with the Stooges, the seminal hard-rock and proto-punk band he fronted from 1967 to 1974, was for 2007's uneven The Weirdness. In the interim, original guitarist Ron Asheton died in 2009, and James Williamson, who played on the 1973 classic Raw Power (which, like Ready To Die, was credited to Iggy & the Stooges), came back into the fold.

The second time around, the band comes closer to summoning the darkly comic, nihilistic roar they mastered in their heyday, with Williamson's guitar work particularly sharp. Iggy, 63 (born James Osterberg), still wields a commanding baritone. From the get-go, the taut, 10-song, 35-minute collection delivers a one-two punch, with the body slam "Burn" and the sax-and-handclap swagger of "Sex and Money." Iggy has aged gracefully, in part by maintaining his sense of humor, and he offers particularly cutting political commentary on the funny and yet not funny "Gun," while also mulling his own mortality on the Lou Reed-ish talking blues "Unfriendly World." So is Iggy, who poses in a vest of dynamite on the album, really Ready to Die? Not a chance. There's still plenty of life left in that leathery carcass.

- Dan DeLuca


New Recordings

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1   1     Fall Out Boy Save Rock & Roll   -    

2   2     Kid Cudi Indicud   -    

3   3     Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience   2    

4   19     Olly Murs Right Place Right Time   -    

5   12     Paramore Paramore   1    

6   5     Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito   -    

7   10     P!nk Truth About Love    12    

8   9     Macklemore & Ryan Lewis The Heist   15    

9   7     Brad Paisley Wheelhouse   3    

10   13     Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox   11    

SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 5/4/13 © 2013

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