Phoenix, the whimsical electro-pop gurus, have released a new album for the first time in four years, and “Ti Amo” could not have come at a better time. Featuring synth-influenced, breezy vibes, we can just picture ourselves beachside, soaking up the summer sun.
The French band has been around for a surprisingly long time, releasing their first album “United” in 2000. Over their seventeen-year career, they have had numerous hit singles, including “1901” and “Lisztomania,” both of which were light-hearted summer anthems.
Phoenix has been around the block, observing and absorbing various cultural influences. All of this has culminated in their sixth studio album, which has been in the works since 2014. Guitarist, Laurent Brancowitz, shared with the New York Times that the album recalls “summer and Italian discos.” In a press release, the band reiterates this theme by stating that “Ti Amo” pays homage to their European and Latin roots as a “fantasized version of Italy.” Picture white sandy beaches, gelatos, marble statues, and even some fior di latte (yes, there is a song named after cheese).
Speaking of things we love, like Italian cheese, it should probably be mentioned that “Ti Amo” is a direct translation of “I love you” in Italian. It’s a fitting title, seeing as Phoenix encapsulates a unique genre of romantic rock. These songs are infused with desire, lust, innocence, and a longing for love.
Yet, they also remain true to their indie roots, giving disco rock an edge with the albums lead single “J-Boy.” This song sets the tone of the entire album- upbeat, light, and dazzling. There are some serious Sega Genesis vibes, catering directly to a 1980’s aesthetic.
The accompanying music video looks like a direct to video VHS release that you rented from your local Blockbuster. And that’s the entire point. Phoenix stars as the musical guest on an old school Italian talk show, “Ti Amo Speciale,” in all their Euro-pop and electro-pop glory. In a spectacle of lights and sparkling synthesizer keyboards, the song takes you on an electric journey through their musical psyche.
“J-Boy” stands for “Just Because of You,” and despite its starry electric energy, the lyrics hint at a darker stream of consciousnesses: “Just because of you/These things I have to go through/It’s more than that, we’re chained/And there’s no one else to blame/For us two.” The outward aesthetic and sound of the song is sugarcoats the underlying doubts that the lyrics are grappling with.
Similarly, the following song on the album, “Ti Amo,” explores unrequited love (and lust). The chorus repeats “I love you” in four different languages: “Love you! Ti amo! Je t’aime ! ¡Te quiero!/It’s not love but wait.” This implies that love is a universal concept. The song also contains specific references with layered meanings: “Champagne or Prosecco?” According to lead singer Thomas Mars, “Champagne is a big commitment… Prosecco, you celebrate every day. That’s what the record should be.” In other words, making a choice between a long-term commitment or something casual and nonchalant.
Other notable songs in the album include the quirky “Fior Di Latte,” (one of the few instances where smooth Italian cheese is used as a metaphor for a girl’s body), the bilingual “Goodbye Soleil,” and “Telefono,” which explores the turbulence of a long distance relationship.
The album was released June 9, 2017; vinyl lovers will love the aesthetically pleasing light blue record. You can find out more about this album on their website.
“Ti Amo” is like a waking dream in Italy, and it’s a dream we don’t want to wake up from.