The Phoenix Foundation – Buffalo (Memphis Industries)

January 26, 2011 by  

Though spanking new to me, it seems The Phoenix Foundation have long been known to the Antipodes where they’ve carved out a successful three album career and collected many the critical accolade on their journey, including the applauded soundtrack for NZ’s underground smash ‘Eagle V Shark’.

Joining NZ’s many stellar audio exports such as Cut Off Your Hands, Fat Freddie’s Drop and So So Modern, the six piece have begun a campaign to bring their breezy tunes north of the equator with this, their fourth album ‘Buffalo’.

In this day and age where London fosters bands so young they’ve barely drawn breath, The Phoenix Foundation come to us fully formed and have hairs on their chest to prove it. Rather than issue some ‘Best Of’ introductory record to prep us, they’ve bowled straight in to promote their fourth record. While it’s a treat to hear the product of a band that have polished and honed their craft, perhaps in this saturated market a sampler of their best music would have been a more dynamic approach to breaking the UK.

The album opens softly-softly, a lullaby rather than a bang with ‘Eventually’, but is nudged out the way by title track, the storming ‘Buffalo’. There’s no doubt the track is the flagship of the album, and while there are other songs of note, it’s this one that stays with you when the album is long over.

Their outlook is a sunny one, and mostly the record is a playful cocktail of joyful indie music with a dash of surf pop to it. They don’t strain too hard for profound lyrics, happily settling for bonkersisms as on ‘Orange Mango’, with the catchy refrain “it takes two to tango, like an orange and a mango”. If you usually drown in gloomy alt rock then this probably won’t be your bag; it’s jaunty, upbeat and often irreverent.

The latter half of the album sees the band turn the tempo down and up the reverb. It’s all nice enough, but the foot is off the gas and the memorable hooks that littered the first half of the record have lessened just a little. The album ebbs away with the soulful snoozer ‘Golden Ship’, a misty eyed trip to ships in the skies. It’s a psychedelic lovely that melts around you.

If you’re not afraid of major chords and are so inclined check out the LP, there’s plenty to reward you, though it might not be an instant classic. Either way, make sure you look up the video for ‘Buffalo’, that tells the tale of a boy who dreams of living a life aquatic. It’s a gem.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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