French indie-rock band Phoenix’s latest album, Ti Amo, is a dreamy, glossy love letter to the Italian peninsula and its dolce vita lifestyle. Ti Amo is an ode to Italy’s seaside towns, its musical talents and even its culinary delights. Prosecco, ricci di mare and gelato all make an appearance on the album – and gelato is a key theme throughout. One song is even named “Fior di Latte, which I initially took as a reference to fior di latte mozzarella.. because my world revolves around pizza. Set to glossy, gauzy tunes, the Italian allusions and lyrics make this a perfect summer playlist that transports you straight to a beach club in the bel paese.
Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars found inspiration for the band’s sixth studio album by listening to Lucio Battisti and Franco Battiato, two Italian musicians who are referenced in the album’s title track, but this isn’t the first time the group seeks inspiration in Italy. The band’s critically acclaimed album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix included a track called “Rome” – which featured prominently on all my mix-tapes when I first moved to the Eternal City in 2010.
Another one of Mars’ major influences is also his wife, Academy-Award winning director Sofia Coppola. The Coppola family hails from Bernalda, a small down in Basilicata, and legendary filmmaker Francis Ford purchased a 20th century Palazzo Margherita in the town as a return to the family’s roots. Sofia Coppola and Thomas Mars married at the property in 2011, now a luxury boutique hotel, so I can only presume they spend summers along the Italian coast where Thomas Mars gathers inspiration and pens his ballads.
I first heard Phoenix thanks to the Lost in Translation soundtrack, beginning my own love affair and admiration for one of entertainment’s most enviable couples. Sofia Coppola is my unabashed favorite director of all time and her artistry extends beyond film and fashion and well into music: her taste is impeccable and I love that she collaborates so closely with her husband. Phoenix has appeared on numerous Coppola soundtracks: “Too Young” was in Lost in Translation, “Love Like A Sunset” was in Somewhere and “Bankrupt!” was in The Bling Ring. Sofia Coppola directed Phoenix’s music video for Chloroform and featured their recent song “Fior di Latte” in her latest commercial for Calvin Klein.
Phoenix has also written the score for Sofia Coppola’s newest film, The Beguiled, which won her the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival this year. The Beguiled comes out in theaters in Italy on September 14.