The Phoenix Foundation: Buffalo Review
New Zealand’s The Phoenix Foundation have found quite a bit of success in their home country since forming in 1997, but have yet to establish themselves here in the United States. That might all change with the re-release of 2010’s Buffalo (their fourth album but first here) which came out here this summer.
Buffalo starts out rather unassuming with the opener “Eventually” being a quiet and hazy opener before the steady pulse of bass and drums kick in with the second track “Buffalo”. If there’s a hit song on this album, “Buffalo” is it with its waves of keyboards over singer Samuel Scott’s chorus “I am the buffalo / through the ocean I do roam” before breaking into solid gallop of drums into a more intense second chorus. “Flock Of Hearts” adds in a xylophone straight out of the intro of the Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” while the following track “Pot” is a beautifully dreamy pop song full of vocal harmonies and muted handclaps. “Bitte Bitte” closes out the first half of the album with echoing slide guitars while Scott addresses the punk’s frustration with “What will we do now that all of the yuppies replaced us? / Don’t worry my brother, there’s just one world, but many, many, many places”.
The second half of Buffalo doesn’t quiet stand up as well as the first half but is still solid, from the Radiohead-esque “Skeleton” to the keyboard led “Wonton”. “Orange & Mango” is sunny and slightly goofy pop tune with the chorus of “It takes two to tango / Like an orange and a mango”. The closer “Golden Ship” is a 6 minute dreamy acoustic guitar led song which builds itself into layers of guitars and echoing vocals.
Buffalo is one of those end of summer types of album, full of pop melodies and mostly quiet hazy sounds. It’s easy enough to see why they’re popular in their home country and easy to see how they could be a success here. Expect to here these guys on Radio K or the Current even sometime soon.
Writer / photographer / Reviler co-founder