THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION: Buffalo
By Amanda Mills
TPF have followed an impressive and idiosyncratic path since their first release in 2003. ‘Buffalo’ is the Wellington sextet’s fourth album, and with a looser yet more cohesive feel, showcases some of their most intriguing music. While ‘Happy Ending’ was a polished, rockier recording, ‘Buffalo’ meanders a bit more, taking in the sounds along the way, with Hawaiian guitars and rhythms, noir-ish slinky pop and singer/songwriter introspection. There are some familiar elements here, but they are used to decorate the material in unexpected ways. More of a collaborative effort than previous TPF albums, it has a wealth of potential singles, from the title track to the propelling rhythms of Bitte Bitte which is embellished with typically evocative slide guitar. The highlights for me are the most interesting tracks – Skeleton has a sultry groove that defies expectations, while Golden Ship is one of their loveliest, saddest songs. Recorded at the Car Club and The Surgery, again with Lee Prebble producing, ‘Buffalo’ may be less straightforward, but is all the better for being more experimental. A classic.