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Phish - Joy CD (album) cover




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3.56 | 33 ratings

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4 stars After 5 years with no Phish album and a needed rest for the band to explore their own individual projects, the big question was, would this album reflect an improvement for the band or would it be similar to the last 2 albums which were disappointing, even to Phish phans, to say the least. "Round Room" and "Undermind" were the last albums that we heard, and they were underwhelming, and reflected the fact that something had to happen.

Well, joy of joys, "Joy" proved that the time off for the band was a good thing. Though not as good as the earlier albums like "Junta", "A Picture of Nectar", "Rift" and "The Story of the Ghost", this album was still better than what had come immediately before, and after listening to this album several times now, it seems as if part of the creative and cooperative spark had returned.

Personally, I am more of a fan of the studio albums than the live shows of the band, I'm not fond of the long jams that the band is famous for. Sure I admire the fact that they play off of each other so well, but to just listen to endless jams tends to make each song sound too much the same. I do love their earlier albums, most of them with longer tracks, but mostly because each song had it's own personality and there was a lot more variety. Each song had a life of it's own. The fact that this album has a lot more life to it is enough to raise it a few bars over the last 2 albums, but it is still missing that variation that the older albums had.

There are some great songs here, which help to raise the level of the album. "Backwards Down the Number Line" is a spirited opener with a great guitar solo, "Joy" is the happy number it is titled to be with a nice jazzy hint of improv which is a great set up for one of those long jam live songs, "Sugar Shack" has a more of a funky feel to it with vocals by Mike Gordon, with a great hook in the chorus and would make an interesting sing along for live performance. The 13 minute epic "Time Turns Elastic" is the highlight of the album and is the progressive piece of the album, and it is quite a turn from the "poppiness" of the rest of the album. It has a lot of rhythmic and meter changes with some great lyrics, multiple melodic turns and great instrumental interludes, but the driving force behind this track are the lyrics and Trey's vocals, which almost follows the pattern of vintage Genesis songs.

So, even if it really has nothing that stands out as much as some of the older albums did, with time, the better tracks here can become Phish classics. The biggest standout being "Time Turns Elastic" is worth the purchase of the album, but the stronger songs hold there own also. Because the element of variety and a lack of dynamics exists here, it does not make it to the status of an essential Phish masterpiece, but it is still an addition to your collection to be proud of. It is nice to have Phish back again and maybe, with time, their studio albums will take on the originality that they once had, but in the meantime, this album is a definite relief compared to the two previous albums. 4 stars.

TCat | 4/5 |


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