As of last week, it’s been four years since French indie rockers Phoenix released their last album, 2013’s Bankrupt! That album, recorded using the same console Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones used while making Thriller, saw them move away from their slinky, disco-inflected sound and towards bigger and meatier pop, and that sonic shift seems like it’ll hold true for their next LP as well.
Announced earlier this week, Phoenix’s sixth album, Ti Amo, will be released on June 9th. Today, the band’s shared the first single, “J-Boy.”
A glossy ‘80s sheen coats everything the light touches on this song, from the growling bassline to the army of high-end synths that dance around the beat, to the beat itself, which makes great use of Prince-esque Linn drum machine. Frontman Thomas Mars’ voice is also coated in a similarly metallic-sounding effect, making it seem as if he’s skating over the track’s surface like the Silver Surfer.
The song’s lyrics, on the other hand, are a bit subtler. What starts off seeming like a straight-up love song-- “I was excited to be part of your world/To belong, to be lost, to be mostly the two of us”—then gets very confusing. In the first verse, Mars sings, “you talked them into letting me go,” but a few stanzas later, he croons, “you talked me into letting you go.” He’s giving us opposing sides of what sounds like a breakup, despite the fact that to our knowledge, he’s still happily married to film director Sofia Coppola.
Is he writing from different perspectives, or is there trouble in paradise? Also, what exactly is a J-Boy?