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Phish - Big Boat LP

New. Sealed.

Taking inspiration from Noah’s Ark, Big Boat finds Phish creating a sense of togetherness. Drummer Jon Fishman invites the listener along on opener “Friends” as the titular big boat arrives and takes us to “Breath and Burning”, where frontman Trey Anastasio lackadaisically describes the apocalypse in the same way Jimmy Buffett describes cheeseburgers. This sort of carelessness comes off more as harmless eccentricity, though, as it’s to be expected from a band who’s as well known for their goofiness as they are for their lengthy set times. (See, for instance, the tongue-in-cheek 4:20 runtime on a song called “Blaze On”.) A certain suspension of disbelief is necessary, though, because despite the overt silliness, it is clear that the band are genuinely enjoying themselves as they tackle such heavy subject matter.

And it is no more clear that Phish are having fun than in the music itself. They are a jam band, after all, and while songs get the chance to open up and become new experiences entirely during their live sets, the band tends to pack their studio albums with short, easier to swallow tracks. There is clear jam potential, though, in the celebration that never wants to end in “More”, or the drawling ballad “Miss You”. Tracks like the funkadelic “No Men in No Man’s Land” and inspirational “Blaze On” have already earned their live show stripes, and it especially shows in the former, which carries with it their trademark lighthearted and danceable spirit.

The same can be said for “Petrichor”, the album’s lengthy closer that puts the band’s jam expertise on clear display. Among tones that reflect sunlight as brightly as you might expect directly after a storm, “Petrichor” journeys confidently through melodic ideas as each band member is allowed to shine. Together, they create a landscape in which the world is washed away by sunlight as well as biblical downpour. Despite this, though, the band vows to play on, and seeing as non-Phish salvation is all but beyond hope by this point (as the titular vessel seemingly didn’t come with any lifeboats), we’re left with little choice but to plant ourselves by their side for what might seem like forever and simply enjoy the view.