Phosphorescent Pride

"Introspective” singer-songwriters are a dime a dozen and Phosphorescent, while he’s always been good, had never really set himself apart until now. Many alt-folk types rely on flamboyant awkwardness and a routine of exploiting their own technical flaws to distinguish their music from that of their navel-gazing brethren, but Phosphorescent (aka Matthew Houck) has put forth a genuine effort and made a gorgeous record that stands apart. On Pride, themes that are trite in lyric books (trees, bodies of water, etc.) are the domain of the music itself, which mixes ambience and tune perfectly. The imagery would be corny in writing but it’s so perfectly established via earthy melodies and contrastingly ethereal production that explaining the feel of this record would only detract from it. Suffice to say, it’s "outdoorsy.” An angelic chorus rises and falls in the background, while sound effects run alongside instruments that mimic the effects of nature. Rather than letting all his faults hang out in the hopes that his audience will find them charming, Houck makes the most of his flawed voice by integrating it into the background choir, or using it sparingly, tastefully, to convey a melody rather than to draw attention to himself. Phosphorescent is one solo eccentric who seems to really care about making good records for other people to enjoy. What a concept. (Dead Oceans)