Phosphorescent – Pride

Dead Oceans

A great deal of fuss is often made over albums that provide the fuel to a good party or a night at the clubs. There’s much less discussion regarding post-party music — those indispensable albums that are always being brought out during the wee hours of the morning when you’re too wired to sleep but too tired to do anything else. Pride the latest album by Matthew Houck’s Phosphorescent is an album that seems tailor-made for those comedown moments when hedonistic pursuits settle into quiet introspection.

The album begins with “A Picture of our Torn Up Praise” which finds Houck layering his voice above a drifting acoustic guitar and a lumbering sparse beat producing a chilling introduction to Pride’s singularly beautiful atmosphere. The standout track “Wolves” augments this contemplative atmosphere with plucked mandolin plodding accordion buried guitar squalls and Houck’s naked voice scraping as much emotion as possible from its every crack. However it’s “My Dove My Lamb” that truly solidifies the album as a moody classic. Here Houck casts a choir overtop a simple harmonica-accentuated track and rather than sounding like a flashy attempt to make a song epic it ends up like the rest of Pride : quiet personal and powerfully evocative.

The tools Houck uses on Pride don’t set him apart from the throngs of acoustic singer-songwriters out there but the results certainly do. Though much of Pride will doubtless sound familiar to most listeners few albums create such a contemplative mood or do it in as stirringly gorgeous a way as Houck does here.