Five years after releasing his hugely-acclaimed 2013 album Muchacho, Phosphorescent—a.k.a. singer-songwriter Matthew Houck—has done it again.
Picking up where he left off, C’est La Vie documents a transitional period where Houck found love, started a family and left New York for Nashville. (He also built a studio from scratch, in which he recorded and self-produced this album.) All of those formidable milestones amount to another masterful LP, which pushes and enriches the country-inflected but subversively eclectic Phosphorescent sound to take on new dimensions.
No longer tortured by youthful doubts and lonesome melancholy, Houck sounds more upbeat and reflective of life and all its wonder, as he incorporates gospel choirs, African polyrhythms and autotune. Standing at the center of the album, the 8-minute long “Around the Horn” gives The War On Drugs a run for its money, both in terms of studio craft and classic rock references.
In a feat of album craft that is far too rare, every track is different, engaging and never overstays its welcome.
Ryan is a writer, editor and vinyl collector currently based in Los Angeles. He started Mini Music Critic in 2017.