A big shiny balloon suddenly bursting, releasing hundreds of colorful confetti on me – that is how I can describe the moment when I finally got my hands on this:
For those who are not familiar with what this is, this – ladies and gentlemen – is the latest album of indie rock darlings, Phoenix. Titled Bankrupt!, the album is the follow up to 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (WAP), the record that catapulted the French indie rockers to unprecedented global fame and success.
I had been excited over the release of some albums in the past, but I don’t think that any album release can come close to the intensity I had for Bankrupt!’s And do you know what’s interesting? I actually don’t know why! Maybe it’s got something to do with the way the band “disappeared.” You see, Phoenix is unlike other bands when they’re recording. Other bands would give their fans updates; Phoenix lock themselves up in a tiny world of their own, disconnecting themselves from the rest.
When they took a break after their WAP tour to work on the new album, their avenues for online communication came to a halt – no news, no updates, no nothing. Even their community forum was no longer maintained and simply became inaccessible. People were left to wonder and guess about the progress of the next album or even about their existence itself! Were they still within the bounds of this earth? No one knew for sure. WAP made them a household name and their presence was all over the music scene, and then when they decided to work on Bankrupt! suddenly they were nowhere to be found.
Well, to be fair, they did drop some “updates” but those were rare, and at times abstruse and cryptic, like that time when they only displayed the months of the French Republican calendar (Pluviôse, Thermidor, and Vendémiaire) over the course of several months. Other bands would directly state what they were up to, but with Phoenix, I had to do some research, figure the “clues” by myself and come up with my own explanation or try to link them to the band / album. They were more like puzzles instead of updates, enigmas instead of news. Maybe it was a “French thing” but other people were not amused with the band’s riddles and “anti-social behavior.” On the other hand, there were those who clung to these bits of information and remained understanding. To be left in the dark was indeed frustrating even for me, but ironically, it was also effective in building up my excitement for their return. Phoenix at that time were a selfish and sadist band, and their supporters, a multitude of masochists!
This whole thing of alternating long periods of silence and hints was finally dispelled when clearer details about their new album were released in 2013 – title, track listing, release date, and even the global premiere of the first single, Entertainment. Although the single left me scratching my head and confused after listening to it for the first time, I still couldn’t wait for the whole package itself, which was slated in the week of April 22 to be made public.
Unfortunately, the release date of Bankrupt! in the Philippines coincided neither with Europe, nor America and Japan’s. The pent up excitement once again turned into frustration when everyday I was bombarded with photos, online articles, and even videos of the band’s tour performances, when all the while, it was not even certain whether the album would be made available locally or not (just like what happened with WAP; it was not released here). I made several visits to record bars and contacted major record stores just to see if they carried it, but none of them did. Finally, I decided to do something I had never done before: contact a major record label itself! I remembered seeing the distributor of the album in Japan days before, and knowing that the label had a Philippine counterpart, I emailed the company and asked about the album. Thankfully, their response was a positive one.
I had to wait yet again for a couple of weeks more before I finally saw that pretty peach sitting on a record shelf. Days after, with a fluttering heart and a smile on my face, I went out to purchase it. Then, when I finally held it in my hands, I was… happy! The years of waiting led to that moment. When I got home, I removed its plastic cover as if I was unwrapping a Christmas present. I slit the sticker price that served as the jewel case’s secondary lock, and then put the disc in a player. The familiar sound of Entertainment, which in the end I came to appreciate, filled my living room. I stayed in that space together with the music filling the air for the next forty minutes.
Ah! The simple joys of life!
So is the album worth the wait? I’ll let you know soon.
For other related posts on Phoenix, you can check out the following entries:
1 In Anticipation 2 Repost: Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix Album Review 3 Awaiting for Phoenix’s Flight 4 What’s Next, Phoenix? 5 Phoenix.Is.Back 6 “Entertainment”: Were You Entertained?