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On his latest album under the Phosphorescent guise, Mathew Houck continues his work with reflective folk music given a somewhat ethereal bent. If not as gone as some of the performers in the field in recent years who seem to balance between stability and the lack thereof, Houck beats the heck out of so many who seem to only want to become the new Dan Fogelberg (sometimes with Tim Weisberg and sometimes without).
Pride’s eight songs are an almost fully solo effort, aside from some backing harmonies on a couple of tracks; as a one-man band, Houck shows he can re-create the as-if-it-was-a-live-jam feeling well; if by necessity songs like “A Picture of Our Torn Up Praise” can sometimes sound almost too perfect, their edges are sometimes just frayed enough. Tambourines stretch out towards the end of one song, while intercutting wordless harmonies, and soft yelps flesh out the arrangements further (a combination used to excellent effect to close out the title track and album as a whole).
His fondness for his own harmony overdubs partially explains why he’s received mentions from the Animal Collective fan base in its various incarnations, but Houck has his own spin on a deeper and more reflective approach that sometimes suggests early Spiritualized circa “Feel So Sad.” His arrangements at their lushest are beautifully ragged, a mélange of psych/Americana that don’t suggest one era or group of performers as much as a careful mishmash of them all, as is readily heard on the downbeat epic of “Wolves,” the album’s clear standout, and the rich blend of acoustic and electric elements on “My Dove, My Lamb,” one of the more interesting uses of Christian imagery in a seemingly non-Christian vein currently out there.