Phosphorescent Here's To Taking It Easy(Dead Oceans / Misra / Warm) Buy it from Insound
It’s amazing that I’m already starting to fall into a rut.
Phosphorescent, in their new album Here’s To Taking It Easy, does no wrong with mostly slow tracks decorating what is essentially a laid back alternative, somewhat soft rockish sound. There is a quiet and formidable talent in their music, something unassuming yet definitely present laces I Don’t Care If There’s Cursing and Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly), so much so as to garner themselves a place in my continually less exclusive “Five Stars” playlist. There is no question that they are good at what they do (except for that occasional divergence from mellow alt folk into painful-like funk in It’s Hard To Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama), not something I expected, nor enjoyed, to be jarred with) but there’s nothing especially...different here. I find it too easy to call them a mix of The Shins and Jon and Roy, Coconut Records and Winterkids, even, dare I say it, Death Cab and (insert dramatic pause) The Barenaked Ladies. This last comparison may be a bit much but, in all honesty, I’m beginning to get substantially bored. I feel like an old man stuck in some old pub playing old music of my long past, old youth, songs I vaguely remember yet can’t put a label on. They’re playing songs I don’t know the words to but feel as if I’ve heard a thousand times before. Plus, I hate this freakin’ Lager.
In short, I want a mini Punk revolution in every album.
All facetiousness aside, what I really want is to be challenged. This is a heavy toll to be laid on Phosphorescent’s doorstep, one that can in no way be entirely their charge but, now that I’ve begun thinking about this, it’s impossible not to mete out at least some blame on an offending party. All the obvious idealism and naivete of my (somewhat childish) opinion aside, a lot of indie music of the day is moving along fairly predictable pathways. Moody, reflective lyrics among ambient guitars and simple drums. Little vocal complexity. Banjos. Where is the ingenuity of the newly introduced sitar? The out-of-left-field attitude that came with punk? In essence, the newness of music that keeps the fans coming back for more. I’d like to see something radical, but the alternative section, with albums like Here’s To Taking It Easy, has decided to do just that: take it easy. Do what they know, emulate to perfection those who are making it fairly well in the underground scene. Making copies of copies, recreations of past success and following in the footsteps of their idols a little too completely. A little too sheepishly.
I am fully aware of the fact that such a statement can prompt virulent responses from many diehard fans of any band, so I’ll just sidestep that whole digression into an actual review of the album at hand. It’s an album with nothing to scoff at (again except for that one about Alabama) and a lot to relax to. Tell Me Baby (Have you Had Enough) is nothing if not catchy and Hej Me I’m Light even manages to show hints of that freshness so necessary to greatness. Eight out of the nine songs are perfect for fleshing out a work playlist, something to play in the background that wont distract you too much from that paper you need to write while simultaneously not disgusting that ever present elitist portion of your brain. Try it out, it’s definitely worth it, just not anything you’ll be rushing to your guitar to emulate. Or maybe it is, if you’re in to taking it easy.13 May, 2010 - 21:59 — Jackson White