Pride (Dead Oceans)

| November / December 2007

Just how sad can one guy be? The question lies somewhere near the heart of the ongoing auditory experiments of Matthew Houck, a.k.a. Phosphorescent. Houck possesses an abiding melancholy, an eccentric, burbling set of pipes, and a democratic openness to instrumentation and musical forms—as long as they move slowly. It’s not that he hops genres; he blends them into unrecognizable new forms. Is it folk? Soul? Country? Yes and no. If 2005’s Aw Come Aw Wry was something of a conceptual triumph of Houck’s vision, Pride is more subdued, as if he’s finished drawing the outlines and is now content to add color. Still, the album has some great songs, notably “At Death, A Proclamation,” which adds a driving, double-time marching drum beat under Houck’s usual languid pace. And in the end, there’s some light at the end of his tunnel: “Lord, truly I am awake,” he sings in “Cocaine Lights.”