Ones to watch in 2011: A new year of cultural highs
Pop albums by Andy Gill
The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo
There's a soothing, amniotic warmth about the music of New Zealand's psychedelic popsters The Phoenix Foundation, their enigmatic lyrics delivered by the frontman, Samuel Flynn Scott, with a laconic, offhand charm that recalls Damon Albarn. Cheerily downbeat dream-pop for dark times in need of a little light.
The Phoenix Foundation Buffalo Review
Album. Released 24 January 2011.
"If you’re looking for a record to banish the winter, this could be it."
Andrzej Lukowski 2010-12-31
A peculiarity of the rise of the blogosphere as an agenda-setting force is that while there now exists a sprawling global network of hipsters that will gluttonously pounce on the demos of unsigned US chillwave artists the second they’re uploaded to wordpress, it is, conversely, perfectly possible for a genuinely successful band from a quieter quadrant of the world to possess almost no international profile.
Wellington, New Zealand’s The Phoenix Foundation have been together for over a decade, enjoying acclaim at home, but making painstaking progress globally. Released on NZ’s ultra-credible Flying Nun label, 2007’s Happy Ending kick-started interest overseas, but it’s taken a veritable age for TPF’s fourth album Buffalo (released domestically in April 2010) to score a UK release, finally arriving under the auspices Memphis Industries.
Still, this delay is no terrible thing, as TPF arrive very much matured into the finished article. The band in no way reinvents the wheel, but their dreamy, synth-heavy spin on Byrds/Beach Boys-style pop is immaculately crafted. Certainly it’s hard to believe a 19-year-old dweeb in his bedroom would be liable to come up with a pop song as perfectly overwhelming as Buffalo’s title-track, a sweet, dreamy jangle that’s abruptly hoiked into the stratosphere by an incandescent synth arpeggio of astonishing vitality. And such are the chops brought to bear on Orange & Mango that a truly dreadful chorus lyric (“It takes two to tango / Like an orange and a mango”) doesn’t really get in the way of it splendour, reminiscent of the poppier moments of Sufjan Stevens’ mighty Illinois.
Elsewhere, the band tends to plough a less-energetic furrow: it’s ultimately going to be down to personal taste if a record dominated by low-tempo, medium-hooky, warmly atmospheric songs is likely to appeal (fans of latter-day Super Furry Animals might easily have found their new favourite band). Whatever the case, those years out of the spotlight have served TPF well: every second of Buffalo is wrought and layered with artisan care, and if ever you were looking for a record to banish the winter, this could be it.
Album: The Phoenix Foundation, Buffalo (Memphis Industries)
Reviewed by Andy Gill
Friday, 7 January 2011
Buffalo is an alluring follow-up to 2009's Happy Ending, the UK breakthrough release from this appealing Kiwi combo.
At its best, it has a radiant, marvellous sound: the opener "Eventually" is like a languorous, South Seas version of Pink Floyd, with expansive, textured layers of sun-kissed psychedelia blending in a warm, relaxed manner – not so much Dark Side of the Moon as "Light Side of the Sun". "Flock of Hearts" has a Blur-like ingenuous pop charm, and the solicitous narrative of "Bitte Bitte" has something of early Dire Straits about it. But it's the title-track that best captures the group's sly, absurdist manner, the repetitive guitar figures developing a galloping euphoria akin to Arcade Fire, as leader Sam Flynn Scott sings, "I am the buffalo, through the sea floor I do roam."
DOWNLOAD THIS Eventually; Buffalo; Pot; Bitte Bitte
The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo – review
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 6 January 2011 23.40 GMT
Taking a route increasingly denied to British pop, these New Zealanders have been able to develop under the radar over a decade before delivering what feels like a major breakthrough. Buffalo doesn't reinvent the wheel. It's an album of dreamy, psychedelic pop: Byrdsy harmonies, Fleet Foxes-type haziness and a hushed transcendence reminiscent of the Stone Roses' gentler moments. However, songwriting this good doesn't come along often. Like the xx – whose sense of spaciousness they share – the Wellington six-piece make a little go a long way. Just two notes make up the title track's instantly memorable intro; the stunning Pot features little but harmonies and handclaps. Sam Flynn Scott's lyrics – tackling everything from a migrating bird to "children on pesticides" – gently cry out for more attention, but his suggestion of feeling "like a child's mind trapped in a man's body" best sums up the simultaneously sad and euphoric feel of an album that already seems destined to be among the best of 2011.
biscuit wrote:Emira: You're coming? Can't wait to meet you
I am cautiously optimistic!
Rough Trade East In-store - THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION - Tuesday 25th January, 7pm 25/01/2011
DON'T FORGET TO PURCHASE THEIR NEW ALBUM 'BUFFALO' FROM MONDAY 24TH JANUARY AT ROUGH TRADE EAST AND COLLECT YOUR WRISTBAND AT THE SAME TIME, ANY REMAINING WRISTBANDS WILL BE GIVEN OUT 1 HOUR PRIOR TO THE STAGE TIME, FIRST-COME-FIRST-SERVED BASIS.........ONE PER PERSON
Pre-order 'buffalo' here
"Surely the most potent band to come out of New Zealand since the far-off days of the Chills....Gorgeous." 5 stars, The Independent
"The future, and the past, seldom sounded so delightful." Q
Buffalo is the latest album from kaleidoscopic pop group The Phoenix Foundation (Sam Flynn Scott - vocals/guitar, Luke Buda - vocals/guitar, Conrad Wedde - guitarist/keys player, Tom Callwood - bass, Richie Singleton - drums and Will Ricketts - percussion) whose last album, Happy Ending - originally released on the legendary Flying Nun label - had critics hailing them as New Zealand's best kept secret.
Now signed to Memphis Industries in the UK, home to friends and fellow countrymen The Ruby Suns, The Phoenix Foundation are set to remain a secret no longer.
From intelligent and infectiously catchy pop/rock gems, to epic, psychedelic prog rock, The Phoenix Foundation's music is a glorious pop polyglot, combining sun bleached harmonies, chiming guitars, progressive synth scapes and subliminal rhythms to glorious effect. Slung between romance and absurdity, their music can move you to tears, make you laugh out loud, or whisk you away into another world, without ever losing its poise. And, already a hit down under, where it has spent five consecutive weeks in the top ten, Buffalo is the band's warmest most loveable recording yet.
kipples wrote:Emira, I know exactly what you mean about being pessimistic. When the european tour was announced last year I remember thinking that something was bound to happen that would stop me going. Again, fingers crossed
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