Bankrupt! - Phoenix
Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 41
  2. Negative: 1 out of 41
  1. Apr 22, 2013
    80
    Bankrupt! isn't nearly as devoid of new ideas as its title suggests, but it doesn't feel like quite the leap forward Wolfgang was compared to what came before it. Not that it necessarily needs to be.
  2. Oct 4, 2013
    50
    Does anything come close to the prize-winning likes of "1901" or "Lisztomania"? No, and that can't help but feel a little disappointing.
  3. Bankrupt! suffers because it feels a little detached at times, like you can’t really tell where the band are in the big picture.
  4. Apr 17, 2013
    79
    ["Entertainment,"] like almost all of the LP, there's heavy pop appeal for those with an ear for glistening production.
  5. Apr 23, 2013
    80
    As on 2009’s “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” the elite pedigree of these bright, well-mannered Frenchmen shows in their impressive aural plumage.
  6. Apr 22, 2013
    75
    Though the instant hits are lacking, Bankrupt! is more cohesive than its best-selling predecessor.
  7. Apr 15, 2013
    80
    It’s little surprise that Bankrupt! is as meticulous, likeable, and danceable as its predecessors.
  8. Apr 25, 2013
    70
    If Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was the band hitting its stride, then it’s likely that Bankrupt! is the music playing during its medal ceremony. It’s not a radical step forward but it’s not a regression either.
  9. May 21, 2013
    80
    Phoenix has somehow managed to follow a universally acclaimed breakout record with one that not only avoids falling flat, but succeeds at creating and sustaining a subtly different atmosphere.
  10. 70
    Bankrupt! could end up the most anti-pop pop album of the year, which is exactly as confusing as the album sounds at times. But if the choice was between confusing or boring and safe, Phoenix made the right call.
  11. 90
    The songs on Bankrupt! all still feature scintillating synths, gorgeous melodies and soaring moments of transcendent skill but with more of a flair for the dynamic tense of music.
  12. Apr 22, 2013
    80
    After the immediacy of Wolfgang, ‘Bankrupt!’ can seem like a sidestep. But delve deeper and this is an album reveals itself as a gem; one which mixes their crowd-pleasing hooks with an inventive shift in their sound.
  13. Apr 16, 2013
    90
    A thrilling ride nonetheless, unlike many others you’re likely to experience in 2013.
  14. 83
    Best of all is "S.O.S. in Bel Air," a deceptively giddy song about the loneliness of guest-list-only parties. "Alone, alone, alone!" Mars sighs. And you can just imagine a stadium full of kids shouting the line back to him, alone together.
  15. Apr 19, 2013
    60
    Pre-interlude, Bankrupt! is trekking along the right path; it's a futuristic journey into a foreign place for Phoenix, akin to a soundtrack for an updated Lost in Translation. But things quickly go off the rails once it spirals out of the dizzying interlude of flashing synths, losing its sense of melody and purpose.
  16. Apr 23, 2013
    84
    It’s less catchy than Wolfgang but also more creative and more satisfying.
  17. Apr 23, 2013
    63
    The album feels like a predictable progression, too logical an evolution.
  18. May 10, 2013
    30
    Not only does Bankrupt! propose a big, stadium-ready sound, it offers one that nearly suffocates its creators. [No. 98, p.59]
  19. Apr 9, 2013
    60
    With one million sales, the French quartet can be forgiven for not messing with the formula here. [May 2013, p.86]
  20. Apr 18, 2013
    90
    An album full of off-kilter, strange pop songs, the sort that Phoenix do so well. It may have been four years in the making, but it’s certainly been well worth waiting for.
  21. 70
    Phoenix are no '80s copycats, but they occupy a sweet spot where influences and their own flashy banks of synths and treated guitars sound meaty and perfect together.
  22. Apr 22, 2013
    70
    The big thrills come so fast it almost feels like a blur, only equaled to the ravished excitement of making a score on a big night. It’ll knock you senseless, possibly bankrupt, until the urge comes back in full force.
  23. Apr 25, 2013
    60
    Despite the flashy production values and singer Thomas Mars’s wispy croon, it ultimately feels as superficial as its subject matter.
  24. Apr 23, 2013
    60
    Little is bad, but little is memorable or exciting or even interesting.
  25. Apr 22, 2013
    75
    Mars is too amiable a vocalist to express pure disillusionment, but he’s great at communicating discomfort. Bankrupt! doesn’t so much ruefully reflect upon Phoenix’s whirlwind, globe-trotting lifestyle as drop you right in the middle of it.
  26. Apr 23, 2013
    60
    There isn’t as much going on with Bankrupt! to rank it among the best albums by Phoenix, but it still works as a solid effort from a band getting used to being big. They’re just doing what they do.
  27. 75
    Bankrupt! doesn’t inspire the covetousness of their early material, but rather it takes its natural place as an album to be consumed en masse by Phoenix’s hefty fan base.
  28. Apr 9, 2013
    60
    The album possibly fails to deliver singles like Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix did, but nothing here suggests unpaid debts, a splurge before the bailiffs come or a lack of confidence, despite the title. [May 2013, p.97]
  29. Apr 23, 2013
    70
    By design, the new disc is less precisely crafted and more taken with posh, atmospheric grooves than hot power pop.
  30. Apr 19, 2013
    60
    It's cool and pleasant, but easy to forget.
  31. Apr 30, 2013
    80
    The resulting album blurs the lines between simple and sophisticated more effectively than Phoenix ever have before.
  32. Apr 24, 2013
    80
    They are heavier, and denser, and overwhelmingly less instant than their predecessors, as cloaked and finely adorned in all manner of bright, shiny synths as they are, at times almost crushed under the weight of an ambitiously flamboyant band. But these are still Phoenix songs, and by the end of a dozen listens they are as urgent as ever.
  33. Apr 23, 2013
    67
    Bankrupt! takes a slight turn instead of trying to replicate the sound of [Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix's] success. Unfortunately, that turn isn’t sharp enough.
  34. Apr 18, 2013
    80
    As ever, great fun.
  35. 60
    The title track slips from minimalist cycling harpsichord to portentous organ and guitar arpeggios before fading mid-lyric, while the cod-oriental motif of “Entertainment” offers a fond memory of a time when such things didn't seem quite so patronising.
  36. It's derivative and is a near hybrid of Mew, the Postal Service, M83 and Empire of the Sun, but it's perfectly likeable without ever inspiring outright love.
  37. Apr 22, 2013
    70
    The wry premise behind "SOS in Bel Air"--distress signals emitting from privileged enclaves--could easily be applied to the album.
  38. Apr 22, 2013
    60
    A skilfully aerated record in which loneliness, the far east and naff cologne all play a part.
  39. Apr 25, 2013
    50
    Phoenix gets the motions nearly right on Bankrupt, but that crucial snap simply isn’t there.
  40. Apr 1, 2013
    70
    If Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was the album that gave Phoenix everything they'd always strived for, Bankrupt! is the record that finds them trying to come to terms with it all. [May 2013, p.80]
  41. Apr 1, 2013
    85
    It's all keyboards to the fore, their lightness lifting the album on to a wave of euphoria that gives Mars' vocals a dreamlike quality; this is less the Williamsburg house party of previous albums, instead a festival in a trance. [Mar-Apr 2013, p.94]
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 87 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Apr 23, 2013
    8
    It's not as strong as Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (their previous album), but Phoenix is still able to deliver a solid album. With a moreIt's not as strong as Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (their previous album), but Phoenix is still able to deliver a solid album. With a more oriental approach to their songs, they have created a fun, poppy, energetic album. The highlights are: "Entertainment", "S.O.S. In Bel-Air" and "Trying To Be Cool". Full Review »
  2. Apr 23, 2013
    4
    Bankrupt! is certainly a departure from their previous work, but here they fly away from the unique sound and qualities they have developedBankrupt! is certainly a departure from their previous work, but here they fly away from the unique sound and qualities they have developed over their past couple albums towards a less distinctive and less energetic tone, which will serve to blend them in with the myriad other synth-heavy, '80s-worshipping indie acts instead of being the distinct band that their previous albums showed they could be.

    With Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, this band did the near impossible and crafted a completely cohesive and endlessly catchy pop album out of many parts that, on their own, sounded odd and ill-fitting. The mixing of these pieces created an endlessly energetic piece without relying on flashy instrumentation or quick tempos. While that album was quite progressive in how each part of the album was structured and fit together and never felt like any instrument was being leaned on too much, the end result was still an accessible pop record. It meshed quite nicely into a cohesive whole while adopting many varying tempos and tones throughout. While WAP was their crowning accomplishment, much of their previous work shared some of these characteristics, and their best work equally incorporated all elements of their sound and let them complement one another rather than leaning too heavily on one sound (as their synth-heavy debut showed).

    Bankrupt! loses much of the focus and effortless energy that makes their music so enjoyable. Most of the album feels like aimless meandering instead of the focused songwriting that made WAP so endearing, and the hooks that are present simply aren't all that memorable. Instead of adopting diverse sounds across each instrument and having each one complement one another, instead the entire album is based around the synthesizer & other electronic elements, which serves to leave less room for the inspired guitar and bass hooks that helped define their past work. Most of the songs simply aren't structured all that interestingly. Also, the percussion work is much more basic across the album. Together these traits combine to create a bed of music that rarely inspires, often meanders, and doesn't give the vocalist much opportunity to expertly weave in and out of the various tones like he has in past albums. It can often feel like everyone is fighting to be noticed over the synths, which leads to pieces that simply go nowhere, let alone create any sense of the momentum that was present throughout in their previous album. Either that or the guitar/bass are just providing the floor for a synth part. The inspired sense of each instrument complementing and bouncing off of one another that helped make their previous work special is nowhere to be found here.

    There are a couple redeeming moments however. The best part of the album is the one-two punch of "Drakkar Noir" and "Chloroform." "Drakkar Noir" is the most energetic track on the album (although not the fastest) because of the solid interplay of a dizzying synth line and some solid guitar with some fitting vocals along with the most inspired percussion that the album has to offer. The track leads seamlessly into "Chloroform," which has a deliberately plodding pace that is used to good effect. Also, the song benefits from being practically devoid of non-electronic elements save for the last quiet minute, which avoids the clashing of instruments with electronics that hurts much of the album. These two tracks show glimmers of the variety, the complexity, and the focus of vision that made WAP so special from start to finish.

    Also, the lead single, "Entertainment," feels most like a cut from the WAP sessions than anything else, but doesn't hold up to the quality of those songs either.

    After listening to "It's Never Been Like That" twice, I remembered many individual hooks even though it was never a cohesive whole of an album. After listening to Wolfgang twice, I remembered most of the album and actively anticipated what was coming up next. After listening to Bankrupt! twice, very little stood out as memorable or interesting.

    It is ironic that a band with this name would choose to drowse their sound and drown what made their past work special for the follow-up to their breakout album. This was their best chance to establish themselves as a innovative force in modern rock, and from my perspective, they blew it. It's sad to see a band that could've burned so bright start to fade back into the shadows shared with thousands of other bands.
    Full Review »
  3. Oct 12, 2014
    6
    This album provides a few great songs - Entertainment, Trying to Be Cool, and even the title track, which I'm sure isn't on the top of theThis album provides a few great songs - Entertainment, Trying to Be Cool, and even the title track, which I'm sure isn't on the top of the charts, but it's actually an interesting track, sitting right in the middle of all the sugary pop. Some other tracks are pretty boring and aren't memorable at all. This album is worth a listen, but it's not a pop masterpiece at all. I would suggest The 1975. Favorite track: Bankrupt! Full Review »