The French group Phoenix's second full-length, Alphabetical, is the followup to its 2000 debut, United. That album cemented its place as one of the cooler bands, the kind whose music is used in thoughtful, arty films and for trendy designers' fashion shows. But with Alphabetical, Phoenix has arrived at an elusive space where its songs define perfect pop -- which can be credited to the interference of über-producer Tony Hoffer (of Thrills, Turin Brakes, and Beck fame) -- that maintains a cool, independent edge. Its sensibility ranges from Seventies British AOR groups such as T. Rex (the crisp "Everything Is Everything"), to the delicate, lasting style of "(You Can't Blame It On) Anybody" and "Holdin' On Together," which quite wonderfully recall Andy Gibb more than anything else.

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Lily Moayeri