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Phoenix Unveils New Album and Song Featuring Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig

'Alpha Zulu' will arrive Nov. 4; Phoenix begins a North American tour tonight in Chicago
Photo: Shervin Lainez

2000s-era indie rock lovers rejoice: Phoenix has released a new song, “Tonight,” featuring vocals from Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. The track will appear on Phoenix’s new album, Alpha Zulu, which will be released Nov. 4 on Loyaute/Glassnote Records.

In the Oscar Boyson-directed video, Phoenix’s members go about their daily business in Paris while Koenig does the same via split-screen from Tokyo. The track is a first for Phoenix in that the long-running French group has never featured another vocalist on one of its songs until now.

Alpha Zulu was produced by Phoenix and recorded in Paris’ Musée des Arts Décoratifs inside the Palais du Louvre. “We felt it would be a fantastic adventure to create something out of nothing in a museum,” guitarist/keyboardist Laurent Brancowitz says. “And so with the pandemic, we could live exactly this scene — to be alone in an empty museum.”

“I was a bit afraid, when there was too much beauty around us, that to create something could be a bit hard,” adds guitarist Christian Mazzalai. “But it was the opposite: we couldn’t stop producing music. In these first 10 days, we wrote almost all of the album.”

Alpha Zulu is infused with the spirit of longtime collaborator Philippe Zdar, who passed away in 2019 after falling from a Paris building. “We had many moments where we could feel his ideas,” Mazzalai says of Zdar. The album opens with its title track, which was released as a single at the beginning of the summer and quickly became a live favorite. It closes with “Identical,” which previously appeared in the 2020 film On the Rocks, directed by Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars’ wife Sofia Coppola.

The only album track not recorded at the Paris studio was “Winter Solstice,” inspired by Mars’ experiences of living in the bitterly divided United States and featuring his stream-of-conscious ruminations atop what was at first a long loop without a chorus: “Turn the lights on / Find me a narrative / Something positive / This requiem played a few times before.”

Phoenix begins a North American tour tonight (Sept. 7) in Chicago. A European leg starts Nov. 16 in London and wraps with sold-out hometown shows in Paris on Nov. 28-29.

Here is the track list for Alpha Zulu:

“Alpha Zulu”
“Tonight” featuring Ezra Koenig
“The Only One”
“After Midnight”
“Winter Solstice”
“Season 2”
“All Eyes on Me”
“My Elixir”