Phoenix Alphabetical

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French quartet Phoenix has contemporaries-claiming fellow Gallic studiophiles Air and Daft Punk as friends-yet their music is imbued with little "contemporary." The band's m.o. remains soft rock AM, though at times edging towards more. Constructed in an acoustically dead practice space, Phoenix's sophomore album, Alphabetical, comes across crisp, flat and sincere. Compared to United, Phoenix's dancefloor-acknowledging synth-rock debut, Alphabetical is steely-Steely Dan, to be precise. Alphabetical is as good a defense for Hall & Oates faux funk as can be produced today.