On the cover of Phosphorescent’s latest, Matthew Houck stands in the shadows, looking every inch the bedraggled caveman, displaced in a modern hotel room, lamps glowing orange behind him. It couldn’t sum up the contents any better.
Houck has created a warm, frazzled record for the follow-up to 2005’s Aw Come Aw Wry, stepping even further into the wilderness to conjure spiritual sounds. Pride is about getting back to the roots of humanity, transporting you through dreamy, haunting drones into open landscapes where tribes and wild animals roam, calling to each other. The album is punctuated by tribal drums and yelps, which intermingle with Houck’s Dylan-esque troubadour tales.
The tone is downbeat and woozy, severing us from the world we know, seeking out space for reflection and spiritual fulfilment; a space for outpouring and cleansing. That’s certainly the lyrical message: Houck is trying to escape from wolves (‘Wolves’); he is searching for hope, love, grace and peace (‘At Death, A Proclamation’, ‘The Waves At Night’); and he is eager for rebirth (‘My Dove, My Lamb’, ‘Cocaine Lights’).
With the lights off, this is a captivating listen, but it takes time to seep into your pores. It is too otherworldly and demands too much from you to be taken in small, brief doses; ‘My Dove, My Lamb’ is nine minutes long, for pity’s sake. But in those quiet moments it really isn’t hyperbolic to say that this album will speak to you, and, through its languor, warm you.
7Mike Haydock's Score