The Spinners

♪ 1901 (Phoenix, 2009) ♪

In French, Indie Pop, Megan Diño, Richard Bolisay, Track Reviews on January 7, 2010 at 10:00 am

“1901” opens with a tick as if something will explode—a warm-up for the climax, foreplay if you will—Thomas Mars and his seductive piyok subtly seducing you about ideas, elliptical patterns, the Eiffel Tower, and teasing you about what you did over summer long.

But the beauty of this song is beyond its words. It transcends its lyrics: “1901” presents us Mars’ vocal range and how he can express a song’s emotion with his voice. For hitting the high notes doesn’t exactly make an expressive singer or an expressive song. The best singers are those whose emotions are translated into their voices—no matter if they don’t pass Songbird standards.

And in the case of “1901” and the Thomas Mars, it’s the croak. It’s the crack. It’s the piyok.

The French, romantics they are, what with their drippy, nasal language, their kiss, and well, their delicate macarons. You don’t hear any of these in “1901” (or in any Phoenix song for that matter) or in Mars’ voice but somehow it seduces. It flirts with you, commanding you to give that French guy a tight hug and tell him, yes everything will be okay. And he responds with a cracking I’ll be anything you ask and more, you’re going hey hey hey hey hey and a croaking Fold it, fold it, fold it. And with the happy, peppy beat in the background, everything melts into sappy French oblivion.

Ah, aurgasmic, yes.

– Megan Diño

Why I prefer this to “Lisztomania” is better left unsaid—honestly, I just don’t know—but I would rather dance than explain it, lose myself to its refreshing tune than make sense of its historical references, enjoy the thrilling ride and press repeat over and over again than stay grumpy and ponder the sad day ahead. Listening to Phoenix I would rather be alone; they seem enough as company. And this song in the album stands out as the sunniest, friendliest, and most captivating, always getting me on my feet, raising my hands up, and blowing me away.

– Richard Bolisay

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