Phish has always had an off-putting reputation. But, one cannot deny the admiration from their niche audience, and after five years of silence, it looks like fans have something to look forward to with Phish’s new album, Fuego. This bundle of fun has some great, quirky tunes. But with its nonsensical lyrics and jarring transitions in the music, I argue that Phish’s music won’t reach beyond its cozy little niche audience…yet.

Fuego starts with a song of the same name, the longest on the album. The lyrics are hilariously nonsensical, with mentions of Vikings, animal heads, and rolling in fuego (Spanish for fire). But the absurd lyrics are accompanied by some pleasantly minor-key rock tunes. This is pretty much how the rest of the album is set up, so I’m pleased to confirm that there are no sour notes that will make your ears sore. Add in Trey Anastasio’s sweet, classic rock vocals and you get a beautiful package.

Anastasio’s guitar solos compete with his vocals, but not in a bad way. They don’t necessarily mix — sometimes we hear the voice, and other times we hear the rocky guitar. But neither of them will cause you to ignore bassist Mike Gordron as he carries the groove in the background with a 90’s hip-hop-like bass line. Jon Fishman’s snare drums ring loudly in some songs, while keyboardist Page McConnell gets a sweet piano solo in “Halfway to the Moon.”

I warned you, this album gets weird, or rather “creative,” and “Wombat” is definitely the weirdest song on the album. The chorus is as follows:

Had to have that
Had to have that
Your wombat
Had that

I don’t know what a “wombat” is in this context, and, no, I did not find any context clues in the lyrics. Still, this song is a brilliant mix of the talents of each band member, creating some experimental tunes (and some blaring trumpets to add the climax). It’s bizarre, but so much fun. My favorite line: “cuddly, but muscular.” I love it.

I won’t deny that Fuego is the kind of music I would listen to, but my friends just wouldn’t. Phish a private pleasure for some of us to enjoy. Make no mistake; this funky, prog-rock collection won’t alienate any rock enthusiasts who can get down and dirty with some experimental music. Bottom line, the album is traditional in some ways, but it isn’t afraid to let loose and have some fun. Fuego gets four wombats out of five.


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