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Phish’s fourteenth studio album is more of a birthday party than a reunion. The band was only “broken up” for five years, but the bubbling opener “Backwards Down the Number Line” celebrates Phish’s 25th anniversary with the lyrics “Happy happy oh my friend/ Blow out candles once again.” And the closing number “Twenty Years Later” reflects on their journey. Working with producer Steve Lillywhite for the first time since 1996’s Billy Breathes, most of Joy plays with an optimistically buoyant bounce. Many lyrics deal with deeper issues like Trey Anastasio’s battle with hard drugs, and “Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan” grapples with losing his sister to cancer. The title track is a nostalgic serenade for a muse named Joy, who may be the personification of Phish fans. “Time Turns Elastic” is the album’s golden opus. Over more than thirteen minutes this nouveau-prog epic takes more turns than a mouse in a maze, and what’s even more amazing is that after having recorded 278 takes, it still bursts with the life and excitement of a new song.

Customer Reviews

An uplifting effort

There is much to like about Phish's latest studio effort. Looking at this album on it's own, I thought it started off a little bit stronger than it ended, but had a few surprises scattered throughout that I hadn't heard live. 1) Backwards starts the album off in the right tone with an easy-to-listen-to jam and nice backups by Page. 2) Stealing Time was a super solid surprise with a catchy hook and great lyrics - might be my favorite track. Can't wait to hear it live. 3) Joy is (almost) as enjoyable as it was when I first heard it at Alpine this year and you can't help but appreciate Trey's effort and intent there. 4) Sugar Shack is another happy Mike song that vocally might be one of his better leads. I can see myself liking Sugar Shack more live, but it is a nice slight change of pace for the album. 5) Ocelot feels more like classic Phish, but where the long heady jam would normally be, a non-offensive 20-30 second jam resides unfortunately. 6) Kill Devil Falls is one of the most frequently songs played live so far and while I like the album version, Trey definitely lacks the amount of guitar rock that dominates the live versions until about halfway through, where it finally picks up a bit and segues into a nice jam for an album version. Something about KDF just didn't grab me the way the live one did. 7) Light is another little gem that I wasn't expecting. From the calm and spacey intro into the meat of the song, and to on to a short jam, it is small but pleasant. 8) I Been Around - GET IT PAGE! Love it. Love Page. Very short though. 9) Time Turns Elastic is another jam they played frequently in '09 and is by far the longest song on the album. Lots of tempo changes and is probably the most textbook Phish song on the album (in my opinion). This is a great song both live and recorded - and should be from the number of takes it took in the studio. It has a GREAT ending in the last 2 minutes or so - especially live. 10) Twenty Years Later is a soft and uplifting ending to the regular album version. I didn't get into many of the lyrics because Phish songs usually take a while to digest and everyone has their own interpretation, but this to me feels like a retrospective look - given all of Trey's "experiences" and the recent loss of his sister. Another very powerful song. Say what you want about Joy and how it may not bet quite as true to traditional Phish as you'd like. I say accept that this band has been through a lot and see this album is an excellent display of their growth, reflection, lack of regrets, loss, and joy. I love it and hope you do too.

A Live Band if ever there was

Phish never ceases to amaze me...LIVE but just like most of the Dead's stuff their studio efforts are a bit less than stellar.In fact I think the individual band members solo studio albums are better than the grops studio stuff...but then the money is in the shows.....I do think the album has a pretty relaxed laid back feel to it, and not bad....Any Phish Phollower should own it...I just think it will translate better live

Phish Are Back!

Very good album. Many old-school fans may not be pleased, but the reality is that Phish are growing up. They are too old to still write songs about Lizards, and older Phish fans should be too old to want more of that. This is a great contibution to their body of work. P.S.- Their ticket prices were quite reasonable, if not low, in relation to the other big names of the summer.


Formed: 1983 in Burlington, VT

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

During the early '90s, Phish emerged as heirs to the Grateful Dead's throne. Although their music was somewhat similar to the Dead's sound -- an eclectic, free-form rock & roll encompassing elements of folk, jazz, country, bluegrass, and pop -- the group adhered more to jazz-derived improvisation than folk tradition. Moreover, they sported a looser, goofier attitude; after all, their drummer regularly played a vacuum during their concerts. However, Phish's main claim as the inheritors to the Dead's...
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