Best of the B Sides: “Love Like a Sunset”

I love long “epic” tracks. If they’re done well, that is. I’ve covered two great ones already — “Yes” by Coldplay and “Touch” by Daft Punk — and Phoenix have an equally beautiful epic track, “Love Like a Sunset” from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (2009). The song is technically two parts, but they play together nicely as one 7:39 track that takes some patience as it builds, collapses, and releases.

Phoenix are a strange band, there’s no denying it, but Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is their best work by far. It’s a fairly short album, clocking in at just over thirty minutes, but it takes only the greatest aspects of Phoenix’s work. United (2000) and Alphabetical (2004) are weird albums, in all honesty, but there’s some merit in the quirk. It’s a fresh sound, at the least. It’s Never Been Like That (2006) went much more mainstream with shiny riffs and catchy hooks. Wolfgang takes the quirk of United and Alphabetical and ties it together with the mainstream polish of Never Been, busting out an album that is both accessible and unique.

“Love Like a Sunset” takes Wolfgang to the next level. Without this expert instrumental track, the album would be a little too similar to Never Been, focusing only on formulaic pop. Thanks to “Love Like a Sunset”, the complexity of every other track on the album is highlighted. It’s a slow burn, from start to finish, but “Love Like a Sunset” has such grace to it that shows the band’s attention to subtlety. It goes through several phases of intensity, building up to a final synth section with steady beat that grows more frantic as it builds. In part two, the song breaks down to an understated acoustic track that ties the escalating synth in to the rest of the album.

All in all, “Love Like a Sunset” just works, especially in the context of the album, but it has enough complexity to be able to stand alone. It certainly shows Phoenix’s attention to detail. The details do show in the two singles from Wolfgang — “1901” and “Lisztomania” — both excellent tracks as well.

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