Bankrupt! - Phoenix
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 84 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 75 out of 84
  2. Negative: 2 out of 84

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  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 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".
  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 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.
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  3. Apr 23, 2013
    9
    The vocal melodies may meander slightly here and there, but everything else is so on-point I can't help but fall in love with it all. Phoenix remains king of that indie pop-rock sound.
  4. Jan 30, 2014
    8
    Quite an energetic album. I had fun listening to this amazing work. My favorite tracks are: "Entertainment", "S.O.S. In Bel-Air", and "Trying to be Cool".The music in these tracks make you wanna get up and dance. The other tracks are still good, but not in the same level as those three.

    I loved their previous album "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix". And after listening to this one, I've come
    to greatly respect this band. I wish them the best. Expand
  5. Jun 2, 2013
    8
    Decent record. Weaker than the previous album, but still strong enough for not being a total flatout. The minus point of this LP is that some tracks feel incredibly synthed, causing consistencies on those tracks. Highlight track: Drakkar Noir, S.O.S. in the Bel Air, Bourgeois
  6. Apr 24, 2013
    9
    Phoenix defined their sound with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Bankrupt! hardly expands on their previous work, but as long as the audience takes a conservative approach, the new record does not disappoint. The hint of Asian influence on "Entertainment" is irresistible, and "Trying To Be Cool" has the same catchy feel reflected in "Lisztomania."
  7. Jul 5, 2013
    4
    Not as good as Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. It's really lacking something, but I can't particularly pinpoint exactly what. Not the worst, but don't pay for it.
  8. May 1, 2013
    8
    Almost exactly four years of waiting for a follow up to the Grammy award-winning Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix are finally over, Alternative French music lovers. On April 23 Phoenix released their fifth album to many eagerly awaiting fans, but were all those sleepless nights of anticipation worth it? Well, yes and no. But mostly yes.

    The album opens up with the widely beloved “Entertainment”
    that is just so energetic you can’t help but move at least one part of your body to. Kicking off the album with this song was a wise choice on the band’s part, as it is the most reminiscent of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, helping ease listeners into their new material with a familiar sound. It also doesn’t hurt that they really nail this song live; if you caught it on SNL, lucky you, but the real magic was at Coachella where they opened with this song as well as finished their set with a take on it, making for an incredibly entertaining (see what I did there?) experience.

    Continuing on with the album, listeners hear songs like the synth heavy “The Real Thing” which seems to be lacking in areas but is overall a fun and catchy listen. After that comes one of my favorites on the album, “S.O.S. In Bel Air”, which is another tune that could force you to cut a rug against your will. The best part comes when the lines “Put my name on your list S.O.S. in Bel Air” are shouted, not just for how cool they sound being called out, but because the music that follows can possibly give you whiplash if you bob your head to this catchy beat too fast....

    Read more here: http://www.recomedia.net/music/phoenix-bankrupt-review/
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  9. May 13, 2013
    10
    Hailing from France, Phoenix have always had the job of not only creating good music, but being the taste-makers of Paris. They do this no better than in Bankrupt! Fluttering synths abound and layers to the point of indiscernable sound, Phoenix build on a sound they established WAP, but far more complex. While rarely completing a full sentence in his lyrics, like a puzzle Bankrupt!'s lyrics can be strung together to tell a tale of the lonesome feelings of making it to the top and the conflicting emotions of stardom. This album not only is as fun and catchy as any Phoenix album, but is noticeably complex lyrically as well as instrumentally. Expand
  10. Apr 23, 2013
    8
    After the spectacular "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", I expected nothing less than something lukewarm, since it's predecessor was so great. "Bankrupt!" was just that, but also exceeded my expectations. Phoenix has moved more into synthpop, that's less bold than the last album, but still provides a peachy, fun vibe to each of the tracks, more specifically "S.O.S In Bel-Air", and "Trying To Be Cool".

    I'm sure some fans will be disappointed, but it's fun, and very easy to get into. 8/10
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  11. May 20, 2013
    9
    I'm going to say what I didn't like first. There are 3 songs on this new record I don't particularly like. Ironically, the title track 'Bankrupt!,' along with Chloroform, are my least favorite. Chloroform just seems underwritten (especially the lead synth part.)

    Ok, now for the good. The track "Trying to be Cool" is one of the best '2010's 80s-revival' songs I've ever come across,
    "Oblique City" is one of their most adventurous songs ever, and "Drakkar Noir" hints at their earlier attempts. Overall, I find this to be far more interesting than their record 'It's Never Been Like That' but probably won't garner the attention of 'Wolfgang Amadeus' Expand
  12. Jun 18, 2013
    8
    Phoenix is an alternative indie rock band from Versailles France with Thomas Mars on vocals, Christian Mazzalai on Guitar, Laurent Brancowitz on Guitar/Keyboard and Deck d’Arcy on Bass. This is their 5th studio album.
    This effort is a solid one; I will give Phoenix that. However, their promise of more experimentation is more than lacking. For a phoenix album, it is a lot more synth heavy,
    that’s for sure. In fact, The extra synths make the album more interesting overall. But as far as experimental albums come, this is not one.
    Entertainment (8.3/10) The album starts off with a catchy electric piano riff with the first single. This sounds like a traditional phoenix track, with more synths and pianos. It’s very catchy and exciting.
    The Real Thing (6/10) This track starts off the bat clunky. It’s all over the place with its sounds and lacks unity with the sounds created in the length given. The light gruntle vocal sample that is repeated throughout is distracting and unneeded. the song’s hook has good build up behind it, but as a whole, is pretty forgettable.
    S.O.S. in Bel Air (9/10) Track 3 begins much better than where 2 left off. It jumps into a nice light beat with a smooth groove, leading to the hook that happens to be one of the best on the album. Thomas Mars’ vocals seem to be much more excited than in the previous track
    Trying to be Cool (7.9 /10) A smooth beat and a coherent sound leaves this track to be more than just filler, it’s the good kind of filler. One with a decent hook and a creamy center. Like in a custard donut. This song is a custard donut
    Bankrupt! (9.5 /10) Easily the most experimental of all the tracks on the LP, this track starts off slow, with layers of sounds that begin to form into what seems to be reminiscent of a pretty Sunday morning. Suddenly the 2nd half dives to introduce a darker sound of keyboards that come in and fade into the repetition of chime sounds on the keyboard. Mars’ vocals come in high pitched and he ends the song ambiently with a mix of acoustic guitar and dreamlike synth notes
    Drakkar Noir (7.6 /10) This song feels like it could closely compare to the songs on the previous LP. With its straightforward guitar, and nice taps of the high hats and even with a touch of electric piano.
    Chloroform (8/10) Chloroform is a jam that keeps a slow pace, almost leaving you at a daze. Never the less, its one of the most relaxing of all the tracks, giving off a strong vibe of the 80’s, really something you can take a cruise to.
    Don’t (7.3/10) Contains loud sounds of electronica, with some fat hits of the drums. Mars sings lyrics of not worrying so much about the stresses of life and just letting go sometimes.
    Bourgeois (8.3/10) Bourgeois is definitely a builder. It has a promising start, then it comes to a halt and becomes sort of disjointed in the middle. However, the track picks up the momentum almost as fast as it lost it. The chorus is exciting and really brings you to a high emotional level.
    Oblique City (8.9 /10) Oblique is a poppy closer. One that is very upbeat compared to the tracks before it. Easily accessible, decent blends of drums, guitar and electric instruments make this closer one worth repeating.
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  13. Jul 24, 2013
    6
    Where Phoenix shines on "Bankrupt!" is not in their electronic experimentations but in their trademark ability to create sweet, catchy pop-rock grooves (see "Trying To Be Cool", "S.O.S. in Bel Air" and "Entertainment"). Despite their attempt to modernize their indie-rock sound with various drum machines and synthesizers this time around, it really is more of the same old stuff. In many ways, these are the very same ideas and sounds they made famous in 2009 with their previous album, "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix", but with a shiny new twist. However, it turns out that the electronic parts of this LP are to me at least the most uninspired and unoriginal-sounding pieces. The best tracks end up being the ones that contain the least amount of electronic ideas, and that sound the most like Phoenix's previous records. The group's tendency to over-complicate certain tracks such as "S.O.S. In Bel Air" and the title track "Bankrupt!" with these sounds can be incredibly tedious at times. Overall, this album is definitely worth a listen if you're into the indie-pop rock genre, but don't expect a drastic improvement or change in Phoenix's traditional sound. Expand
  14. Jan 14, 2014
    10
    Wonderful album. Definitely different than their last albums; that's one of the reasons I like it so much. If you don't go into this album expecting Wolfgang Amadeus (which seems like the only other Phoenix album many know), you'll be pleasantly surprised.
  15. Jan 3, 2014
    7
    I have to admit, the first time I heard this album, I didn't like it. The style was different from Phoenix's previous albums and anything else I'd ever heard. Most of the songs grew on me after a while. The keyboards are great, and they are prominent in many songs. The only problem is some of the lyrics; they don't make sense. For example, "Trying To Be Cool" seems to be a collection of random words and phrases in no particular order. "Wildlife binoculars, tell me that you want me." Expand
  16. May 8, 2014
    4
    The rare and more listenable moments are more to the beginning of the album, the fact is simply that the rest of the album alone feels a tad inconsistent and like it simply doesn't offer enough that a proper album should.
  17. Jul 15, 2014
    8
    Phoenix is an alternative indie rock band from Versailles France with Thomas Mars on vocals, Christian Mazzalai on Guitar, Laurent Brancowitz on Guitar/Keyboard and Deck d’Arcy on Bass. This is their 5th studio album.
    This effort is a solid one; I will give Phoenix that. However, their promise of more experimentation is more than lacking. For a phoenix album, it is a lot more synth heavy,
    that’s for sure. In fact, The extra synths make the album more interesting overall. But as far as experimental albums come, this is not one.
    Entertainment (8.3/10) The album starts off with a catchy electric piano riff with the first single. This sounds like a traditional phoenix track, with more synths and pianos. It’s very catchy and exciting.
    The Real Thing (6/10) This track starts off the bat clunky. It’s all over the place with its sounds and lacks unity with the sounds created in the length given. The light gruntle vocal sample that is repeated throughout is distracting and unneeded. the song’s hook has good build up behind it, but as a whole, is pretty forgettable.
    S.O.S. in Bel Air (9/10) Track 3 begins much better than where 2 left off. It jumps into a nice light beat with a smooth groove, leading to the hook that happens to be one of the best on the album. Thomas Mars’ vocals seem to be much more excited than in the previous track
    Trying to be Cool (7.9 /10) A smooth beat and a coherent sound leaves this track to be more than just filler, it’s the good kind of filler. One with a decent hook and a creamy center. Like in a custard donut. This song is a custard donut
    Bankrupt! (9.5 /10) Easily the most experimental of all the tracks on the LP, this track starts off slow, with layers of sounds that begin to form into what seems to be reminiscent of a pretty Sunday morning. Suddenly the 2nd half dives to introduce a darker sound of keyboards that come in and fade into the repetition of chime sounds on the keyboard. Mars’ vocals come in high pitched and he ends the song ambiently with a mix of acoustic guitar and dreamlike synth notes
    Drakkar Noir (7.6 /10) This song feels like it could closely compare to the songs on the previous LP. With its straightforward guitar, and nice taps of the high hats and even with a touch of electric piano.
    Chloroform (8/10) Chloroform is a jam that keeps a slow pace, almost leaving you at a daze. Never the less, its one of the most relaxing of all the tracks, giving off a strong vibe of the 80’s, really something you can take a cruise to.
    Don’t (7.3/10) Contains loud sounds of electronica, with some fat hits of the drums. Mars sings lyrics of not worrying so much about the stresses of life and just letting go sometimes.
    Bourgeois (8.3/10) Bourgeois is definitely a builder. It has a promising start, then it comes to a halt and becomes sort of disjointed in the middle. However, the track picks up the momentum almost as fast as it lost it. The chorus is exciting and really brings you to a high emotional level.
    Oblique City (8.9 /10) Oblique is a poppy closer. One that is very upbeat compared to the tracks before it. Easily accessible, decent blends of drums, guitar and electric instruments make this closer one worth repeating.
    Expand
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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.