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Power-Pop with a Twist of France

The French band Phoenix draws on an eclectic mix of '70s and '80s influences.
The French band Phoenix draws on an eclectic mix of '70s and '80s influences.

Those looking for the definition of ear candy need look no further than the French band Phoenix's third album. It's Never Been Like That gets its title from a line in "Long Distance Call," a lovable power-pop nugget informed by early-'80s pop grooves, the insouciance of the '70s rock band Pablo Cruise and a flood of Hall & Oates sing-alongs.

Phoenix draws mostly on an eclectic mix of 20- and 30-year-old influences. Since its debut six years ago, the band has been quietly admired for its effortless yet crafty ability to put a French twist on traditional pop songwriting while blending in elements of electronica. On its new album, the band drops much of its easygoing post-disco synth sound for one rooted in jangly, chiming guitar-pop.

Winsome and catchy, fueled by indelible hooks and the icy but agreeable persona of singer Thomas Mars, "Long Distance Call" will remain lodged in listeners' heads long after its three minutes are over -- maybe even all summer long.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Bruce Warren is assistant general manager for programming of WXPN in Philadelphia. Besides serving as executive producer of World Café, Warren also contributes to Paste magazine and writes for two blogs: Some Velvet Blog and WXPN's All About The Music Blog.