I’ve always considered myself a person with diverse taste, especially when it comes to music. I truly believe there are gems in all genres, it’s something I take pride in. Of course there are always exceptions, and my biggest exception is I just don’t really care for country music all that much. It only makes sense, then, that my closest friends are obsessed with the damn genre. Taking road trips can be a hassle. The Punch Brothers is the band I mention when asked if I like country music. “Oh, you like all kinds of music, what about country?” “Well I’m a fan of alternative blue grass.” “What’s that?” “You’ve never heard of the Punch Brothers?!?” I’m a real treat at parties, guys.
The Punch Brothers are about as country as I am, and this album is more removed from those “country” tones than any of their previous work. I’m surprised to say that’s a bit disappointing. It is not a bad album by any means. The Punch Brothers are skilled musicians if anything at all and it shows here. I’d say I’m fairly down the middle about the whole thing though. There are songs I loved, like My Oh My. It perfectly displays what I love about the Punch Brothers: that syncopated sound, the singing in rounds, well crafted lyrics and the strings, my god the strings! And then we have numbers like I Blew it Off or Magnet, songs that are by no means bad, but sound so much like other bands (Spoon, in the case of the former) that they lose their appeal.
The thing about my middling feelings though. is that I love progression in a band. I think we are often disappointed that musicians do not retain the exact same sound from album to album, but I can admire growth. Passepied (Debussy) is almost Elizabethan in its instrumentation, I love that. I love a departure. I don’t love when music progresses toward the palatable, and I think sometimes The Phosphorescent Blues is guilty of that. When it isn’t, however, it’s pretty damn brilliant.