Listen to Phoenix's new album Ti Amo and you're likely to come away with a number of indulgent cravings. Perhaps most notable is "Fior Di Latte," a gorgeous burst of synth-pop flavour that's named after the simplest form of gelato (it's also the name of a type of cheese). Elsewhere, the ecstatic "Tuttifrutti" takes its title from a candied fruit dessert, while danceable robo-pop anthem "Ti Amo" finds Mars singing about "melted gelato" and offering "Champagne or Prosecco."
Ice cream and alcohol aren't the hardest-hitting song subjects imaginable — particularly not in these fearful times of extremist politics — but they're a perfect representation of Ti Amo's beautiful richness. All ten of the album's songs overflow with sparkling synths, sighing pop hooks and made-for-summer beats. The lyrics are often difficult to parse, particularly since Mars frequently dips in and out of Italian and French, but the overall impression is one of sweet, big-hearted sincerity.
Opener "J-Boy" sets the tone with its twinkling synths and playful sing-speak vocal delivery. Never mind that the lyrics paint a dystopian portrait of a "hopeless world"; the chorus repetitions of "just because of you" mean that the lasting impression is one of heartfelt romance. This starry-eyed glow lasts all the way until multi-lingual closer "Telefono," the most yearning of the album's declarations of love.
Whether Mars is craving affection or food, Ti Amo is an album about seeking pleasure. We live in difficult times, and that makes indulgences, whether it's ice cream or pop music, all the more valuable.
Pick up Phoenix's new album on vinyl here. (Glassnote)