Oblique City

Album: Bankrupt! (2013)

Songfacts®:

  • Phoenix close their fifth studio album Bankrupt! with this song in which Thomas Mars laments the brand worship of international icons like Coca-Cola. The vocalist told Radio.com that when it came to figuring out the tracklist, the band knew "Entertainment" would start the album, while this song would end the record since the two echo a notion of loneliness. He went on to compare "Oblique City" to Voltaire's prose romance Candide.

    Voltaire's most famous work Candide found the French satirist heaping all manner of adversities upon the smiling eponymous hero, who stands up to them philosophically. Candide was written at the time of the Lisbon earthquake, which killed 50,000 people, and it was intended to satirize philosophical optimism and to question the goodness of God.
  • Mars told Artist Direct how this song was put together. "Somehow, we wanted the song to have a certain drive so all of the instruments would use the same pattern and you couldn't necessarily tell them apart," he said. "Whether it's the synths, drums, or guitars, they're all under that same wall of sound, playing the same. It took us a while to craft that so it sounds unique. It feels like one big voice or instrument so you can't tell what it is. That was the starting point.

    "Then, it became more of a journey," Mars continued. "We started put a few things here and there. Towards the end, the very simple guitar is influenced by this Swedish movie, A Swedish Love Story. It has an amazing soundtrack, and we pretty much stole it from there. That was the one thing on the album we didn't really create. It's pretty simple and very minimal. The song sounded so overwhelming that it needed a minimal part. We knew it would be at the end of the record too so we wanted to finish on a minimal note. It was important to us that after all of these epic-sounding songs you finish on something basic. What's you find in the end is not overwhelming. It's nature. It's not man-made. It's intimate. When it's big, it can feel distant. It can take a while to create a relationship with it."
  • Mars told Artist Direct regarding the song's meaning, that he saw it, " as a very candid sort of diary." He explained; "There's so much information that you sometimes feel disconnected. It's a few attempts to feel connected and find out if you're the person who can connect or if it's just some sort of way to protect yourself."

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