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3 stars Fans who saw Phish in 1994 and listen to the song Secret Smile on this album will scratch their heads. What a difference 10 years can make. But honestly, I cannot but feel so deeply moved by this song and its heartbeat arrangment + wonderful string arrangement. This song is so emotional, that it's reaching a peak in the listeners heart just as the 1994 jams did in the brains those days...: Unfortunately the arrangment of Scents & Subtle Sounds is not as good as it is live. Page's Piano is missing very badly. The Connection is nice and A Song I heard the Ocean sing is another Highlight of the album.
Report this review (#33683)
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Phun but phorgettable

Having regrouped in 2002 and released the hurriedly prepared 'Round room' album, Phish recommenced touring, although their activities were much less prolific than in their earlier days. Once again, this album would prove to be a closing chapter in the band's history, the members embarking on another hiatus after its release.

The lengthy jam founded tracks which dominated 'Round room' are absent this time, the tracks reverting to the tighter arrangements which are common to most of the band's studio (but not live!) albums. The track lengths range from a few brief link pieces to some more adventurous 6+ minute tracks. The opening "Scents and Subtle Sounds (Intro)" and the following title track feature the light pop rock and catchy melodies which the band thrive upon.

The first of the longer tracks is the Beatles-esque 'A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing', a pleasantly psychedelic song with spacey early Floyd guitar effects and retro echoed vocals. The Beatles feel continues on 'Army of one', a song which benefits from some fine organ playing supporting up front lead guitar. 'Nothing' probably offers the best summary of both the album and the band as a whole, being an enjoyable slice of light power pop with a strong melody. As with so many Phish songs, 'Nothing' is inoffensive, fun to listen to, and largely forgettable.

The final longer track is 'Secret smile', a rare song of genuine emotion from the band. The atmosphere of the piece is accentuated by some fine strings and a delicate vocal. This is probably not a song for the band's famed live shows, but on record it does stand apart from its peers.

Overall, a decent effort from Phish, worth hearing if only for 'Secret smile'.

Report this review (#457700)
Posted Monday, June 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars 'Undermind' is Phish's 11th album, and would be the last studio album they would release until 2009. It would also be a good indication, considering the output they had with this and the previous two studio albums, that they needed a break, or something. Their music was good, but it wasn't as great and fulfilling as it had been before the release of 'Farmhouse'. The studio music during this time was a bit lacking in substance.

On this album, as on the other two albums released in this period, there are a few great tracks, but things aren't consistently good, and the carefree spirit that they once had is missing. The title track on this album is a great starter in that it gives a feeling that maybe this album could be better, as it has a nice up tempo feel and a funky attitude, but the following track 'The Connection' starts to show that weaker feeling of the last two albums again. 'A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing' starts to follow in that same pattern, but at least it is a longer track, so it begins to flesh out and actually has an excellent, and even somewhat heavier, instrumental section, which saves the track as one of the better selections on the album. The excitement generated from the extended instrumental section follows into the bluesy 'Army of One' which has an excellent piano/guitar solo.

Things falter again on 'Crowd Control', which could have been a good track, but it seems underdeveloped and rushed. 'Maggie's Revenge' is the only instrumental on the album, and it is short and strange with some bizarre guitar effects. 'Nothing' attempts to be a more pop style song, but comes across as being weak, and that is the same problem with the next track 'Two Versions of Me' with an even bigger drawback, even the melody isn't memorable this time. 'Access Me' is a humorous track, but is still underwhelming.

The trend continues with 'Scents and Subtle Sounds' which I actually find quite annoying. 'Tomorrow's Song' is a short 2 minute track which is just filler, mostly repeated lyrics sung a cappella except for some percussion. 'Secret Smile' is the only redeeming track on the last half of the album. It is a mellow Beatle-esque track with Trey's vocals and a nice string section, along with an atmospheric guitar and piano. 'Grind' ends the album with a very short track sung in barber-shop style harmony, no instruments, about grinding teeth. Dumb.

So, even though I consider myself a Phish Phan, I don't like this album much and can only pull 4 (out of 14) worthwhile songs off of it. The rest of the album just feels weak and almost like their hearts just weren't in it. Thank goodness they went on hiatus for a while after this, because they would return much stronger. But many phans had lost hope in the band after 3 mediocre albums.

Report this review (#2079730)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2018 | Review Permalink

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