It takes a mighty dank pair of ganja goo balls to call it quits at the peak of your popularity. And that’s exactly what this Vermont phoresome and Simpsons punch line has done, announcing that the band will dissolve after this summer’s Coventry, the band’s annual two-day celebration of peace, love and self-indulgence. But the band known for flouting industry rules of radio airplay and album sales has elected to finish its discography with an overture to the bloated beast it built a career avoiding. Undermind represents Phish’s ninth — and likely last — studio foray. It also includes the band’s cleanest shot at a bona fide Billboard hit: “The Connection,” a radio cut that clocks in at an absurdly concise 2 minutes and 22 seconds. And if “Connection” doesn’t do it, there’s always “Crowd Control.” Or “Nothing.” Or “Two Versions of Me.” Or … well, nearly all of the rest of the album. The delicate balance between craft and spontaneity has always plagued Phish’s studio work, and Undermind isn’t much different in that regard. But when that balance is struck on the ferocious, guitar-driven “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” or the Floyd-flavored “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” there’s a glimpse of the band’s remaining potential. Too bad, then, that after more than 21 years, 1,000 shows and 13,000 songs, Phish never released a career-defining album.

Categories: Music