Tue, Apr 02, 2013 - Page 12 News List

CD reviews

The invisible way, by Low, Sub Pop and Muchacho, by Phosphorescent, Dead Oceans

By Jon Caramanica and Nate Chinen  /  NY Times News Service

See, the cage, it called. I said, ‘Come on in’

I will not open myself up this way again

Nor lay my face to the soil, nor my teeth to the sand

I will not lay like this for days now upon end

The scriptural cadence and mythic gravity of Houck’s lyrics, here and elsewhere, manage not to overburden his emotional payload. Over the past decade of releases as Phosphorescent, he has learned how to add layer upon layer of information without losing an essential lightness of touch. A Charm/A Blade is a good illustration of this principle: it has this album’s most rhetorical structure, delivered with those crowded vocal harmonies, which sound more festive than oppressive.

But that might be an underlying mission on this album, to find peace in turmoil. Phosphorescent, currently on tour, does that sort of thing well. The final moments on Muchacho, near the end of Houck’s sun salutation, find him singing “Be easy,” as a mantra. Then, finally, just “Be.”

-Nate Chinen, NY Times News Service

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