Living in Paris after the Bataclan attacks meant living in a different Paris. It meant coping with soldiers of the French Army stroll by with guns much bigger than I could ever fathom. It meant living with a sort of displaced fear, one that wasn’t mine to consume because it was not my perpetual home, but a fear that always lingered in the back of every decision. In March, Brussels was faced with terrorist attacks in the main terminal of Zaventem International Airport – 32 people died. This collective grief overcame Europe in it’s entirety, as everyone struggled to find their footing, a silent prayer, a glimmer of hope that things would ever return to normal.
It makes sense that Phoenix responded to this grief with Ti Amo, a sleek and sun-kissed record that reminds us of what always comes: summer. The French men turned their signature brand of romanticism into a collective reaction of the state of the world, recorded in an old opera house near the Centre Pompidou, in the heart of Paris. Guitarist Christian Mazzalai was trapped in the studio after a recording session shortly after the police shut down the city. “At some point when we were in the studio, there was a slight sense of guilt,” frontman Thomas Mars told the New York Times. “But we were comforted by the idea that the four of us working wasn’t escapism or denial. When that became clear, the guilt disappeared.”
Ti Amo is ten tracks of pure sunshine in the face of loss, inspired by the warm carelessness of 70s Italian discos. “J-Boy” paints a picture of romance with a backdrop of dystopian collapse, as Mars sings about a “hopeless world” and a collective sense of moral responsibility. “Flor Di Latte” revolves around a Fela Kuti beat that’s at the heart of what Phoenix always does best. Title track “Ti Amo” recites “I love you” in English, Italian, French and Spanish, with a call of “100% lover, 0% violence” that reminds the listener of the one thing we all have in common, despite the language you speak.
As Tyler Clark of Consequence of Sound said best, “By letting the world’s darkness in and finding a way to dance anyway, Phoenix helps listeners remember that while evil isn’t going anywhere, neither are the sunsets of Italian beaches or the soaring romantic nights that follow.” For a time that seems all types of uncertain, it’s comforting to know we plan on keeping Ti Amo on rotation until summer’s end.
Last week, contributor Tarah Schomer attended the Spotify x Phoenix party hosted at Venice Beach. She compiled a collection of photos from the day that we’re excited to share on Modern Girls – check it out below:
Photography by Tarah Schomer.
Words by Vanessa.
Ti Amo by Phoenix is now out worldwide via Glassnote Records. Stream it below: