Album Reviews: It's Never Been Like That by PhoenixWow....Who knew these French electronic dance boys had this good of a pop rock record in them? You couldn't have guessed from their previous two decent but unfocused albums (United and Alphabetical) They hinted at brilliance with a couple of great singles on each, but It's Never Been Like That is a great leap forward. This is the first "summer" album of 2006. Roll down the windows and cruise the strip. You don't need anywhere to go, just 37 minutes of sunshine.
No mere studio Cheap Trick, each track keeps one-upping the previous track with a ten song, two-sided album feel. Just when you think you have a favorite song, like "Consolation Prizes," "Rally" or "Long Distance Call," the record culminates in the one-two finishing punch of "Sometimes in a Fall" and "Second to None." It's all sugary sweet and might not be your favorite flavor come fall, but it'll be hard to find ten more cool tunesicles for your summer loving.
The production is slicker than oil, but it works in part to the frenetic pacing and the vocals, which have a one-take feel and feature plenty of grunts and yelps. Like a summer blockbuster, if we analyzed it too closely we'd be sure to find some plot holes. Just go along for the ride. - Jeff Kamin
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