Highlights: Entertainment, The Real Thing, Bourgeois, Oblique City
Even though Bankrupt! does grow on you with time, this growth is fairly unimpressive. This is a good pop record, make no mistake, but where Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was irresistible lush exuberance, this one feels a little too lightweight and hollow. Don’t expect Bankrupt! to punch you in the face – it will merely tickle your senses. Stylish, clever tickling though it is.
The whole album is synths-based to the point where you would forget what a guitar-based song sounds like (not that there is no guitar here). But that is not where the problem lies, I can assure you. And it is not even the songwriting. The problem is that parts of this album sound shallow, synthetic and totally devoid of real emotional presence. And they are French, for Christ’s sake. Unforgivable. For instance, before we get to the perfectly lovely melody of the title track, I have to sit through more than four minutes of keyboard tomfoolery that has no value whatsoever at all. Not too exciting, to be honest. Still, I admit that at some point (say, third listen) the smart vocal hooks will start jumping at you like mad. So far only the catchy but pedestrian “Don’t” hasn’t managed to disclose its charms.
Bankrupt! is pretty much the poppier side of The Strokes’ latest. An inevitable disappointment after the overwhelming success of Phoenix’s previous album, but when all is said and done, fuck guitars and fuck emotions: in pop music, a good pop hook is a good pop hook. If you stick to that winning philosophy, this album delivers.