Ever since the Grateful Dead packed it in, Phish have been known as the jam band of all jam bands, building a massive following thanks to their often-spellbinding live shows.
But the Vermont-based group's studio output has been marked by inconsistency. While they've shown occasional flashes of magnificence?like on the 1996 disc Billy Breathes? more often than not they've failed to transfer their onstage chemistry into studio success.
Farmhouse isn't likely to reverse that reputation.
The album starts promisingly enough with the hook-filled title track and the funky follow-up groove of "Twist," which will likely become a fan fave.
Yet a lot of the rest of this is excessively mellow. Songs such as the light "Heavy Things" and the lifeless "Dirt" never take off, while others like the harmony-tinged "Sleep" are pleasant but uninspiring. It's only when they open up with the soulful "Sand" and the chordal-crashing jam "First Tube" late in the disc that Phish finally start to get into a cool comfort zone.