Rolling Stone - p.109Ranked #50
in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "Phoenix achieve a harder, more aggressive guitar-driven sound..."
Q - p.1183 stars out of 5
-- "Versailles four-piece Phoenix have now decided to loosen up....This suits frontman Thomas Mars's dolorous vocals and the album's sustained mood of melancholy."
Magnet - p.102
"For Phoenix, pop music is defined not only by accessibility, but also malleability....[The album] is all jingle-jangle mornings and Hollywood nights, a more streamlined power-pop statement."
CMJ - p.6
"[The album] showcases Phoenix's most haute-blooded guitar riffs. Freed from dancefloor expectations and no longer relegated to chic background music, Phoenix have made their most fully realized record yet."
Phoenix: Thomas Mars (vocals); Christian Mazzalai, Laurent Brancowitz (guitar); Deck d'Arcy (bass guitar).
Additional personnel: Prince Amethyste, Sebastian Schmidt , Thomas Hedlund.
With its third album, French pop group Phoenix heads away from the dance floor and toward a crisp, guitar-based sound more in line with the Strokes. While the lighthearted 1980s-flavored beats that make Phoenix's music so enjoyable are still in place, they are carefully countered with a jangly slacker aesthetic. IT'S NEVER BEEN LIKE THAT may not pop with anything as catchy as their early single "Too Young," but it does offer a consistency lacking on 2004's ALPHABETICAL and 2000's UNITED. Only the opening track, "Napoleon Says," seems out of place, its initial notes recalling the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' hit "Maps." Later tracks like "Rally" and "Long Distance Call" prove that the band is capable of mixing this newly relaxed style with Thomas Mars's infectious, Nilsson-esque vocals in a way that is simultaneously accessible and progressive, creating a tension with the band's typically clean production that gives the album an interesting energy.