2014 – ATO Records
By Phillip Smith; July 05, 2014
Five years have passed since Phish last released a studio album. The wait, although long, was well worth it. Fuego, the twelfth studio album from Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon and Page McConnell, is fresh, fun and very easy to connect to.
Title track, “Fuego”, stretches out to just over nine minutes, laced with tasty jams, and harmonizing vocals. When I hear the intro to “The Line”, a song about stepping up and facing ones responsibilities, I pick up a very retro Sixties vibe reminiscent of Booker T & the MGs as McConnell plays keyboard. As the song settles in though, it absorbs a more melodramatic overtone. The quirky “Wombat” gets really weird, dropping references to the late Seventies TV sitcom, Fish and its star, Abe Vigoda.
Gordon lays down a really funky bass line to kick “555” off with. Heavy doses of keys from McConnell teamed up with Anastasio’s groovy guitar licks and a backing horn section make this a delightful listen. Another tasty track sporting a little funk and awe-inspiring guitar is “Sing Monica”. This lifts off like an alt-rock version of the Gap Band’s, “You Dropped a Bomb On Me”, and lands in big bowl of luscious guitar riffs suspended by a chorus of call and response vocals.
A perfect song to chill out to, “Waiting all Night”, is beautifully soft and melancholy. It reminds me a little bit of John Barry’s “Midnight Cowboy Theme”, sans the harmonica. I really like “Winterqueen” too, another beautiful track with many layers. For a fleeting moment, when the horn section plays about three minutes into the song, it’s like a lost melody from Chicago.
The ten tracks on Fuego is such a fun listen and so well done. To borrow lyrics from the final song, “Wingsuit” to describe the album itself, ‘It feels good’. I am so looking forward to catching the band play live this summer.