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coverpic flag Norway - Full Moon 49 - 10/13/00

Ai Phoenix
The Driver is Dead
Racing Junior/Universal Music

...and just shortly after their 10" mini Happy To Get Her comes an album, the first full length on the Racing Junior label, entitled The Driver is Dead. But relax, hence the title there's no need to worry, because Ai Phoenix steer their vehicle most safely. Is there something called "pleasure cruise control"?

Ai Phoenix is a quiet and slow-going engine most of the time. Building layers of smooth sound, like they're letting out thin veils of silk to wave elegantly, slow-motion-like in the air. In the midst of a dark and half spooky fairy tale forest. Inviting us to come step into the darkness to see the light of their gracious songs. One might say that some of their songs sound the same. Or you could just give in, lay back and enjoy the graceful movements and delicious moments recorded. The, well...yes, "radio friendly" This Is Close sort of divides from most other songs on the album, almost being, uuh, fast. Almost. Ai Phoenix have found their lane, and they know where they're going. Lyric-wise they've also stepped off the regular path. They "paint a lot of pictures" (both abstract and concrete) within their lyrics, which give the songs an even more mysterious feel, like with the final lines from the closing track: "With or elbows on the ground and arms bent like wrestlers, are we led astray or is sweet oblivion coming our way?". Oblivion? I hope not.

The high-lights are queuing up. Take the awesome Wishing Lot, with its tranquilizing guitar. Pure magic in the air. Or the blissful If You Ever Saw Her Name. And the short piano-driven Volga Beach Hotel, and the closing "title-track" Hey, The Driver is Dead, We Cry. End of road trip.

So, my conclusion is: You don't need to go fast and be loud to come first and get heard. Bravo!

Copyright © 2000 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Ai Phoenix articles/reviews: Happy To Get Her, Hey Now / Being Here Is Everything, I've been gone - Letter one, Lean That Way Forever.

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