88 Thoughts on the New Phish Album ‘Fuego’

Inside our Fuego...

Late last night Phish dropped the news that NPR Music will be streaming their new album, Fuego, in its entirety for a whole week before the band officially releases the album next Tuesday, June 24th. Three tracks from the album had already been released but today would be the first day that fans could show up to their desk, sit down with a strong cup of hot coffee (or cold green tea), and really digest what the band had been working on since their triumphant 30 Year New Year’s Eve celebration and before their New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival appearance earlier this summer.

I sat down this morning with a strong cup of coffee myself and worked through the new album, and these are the 88 thoughts I had come to mind as I listened to it. None of this is really upon “second listen”, which is normally where a more discerning music critic might spend more time digesting an album before spitting out a first draft of thoughts, but frankly I don’t intend to “critique” this new album even in the slightest. Waiting for Phish to release this new album after the curveball that was Halloween 2013 was definitely something I was eager to hear, and I think they did the songs some serious studio justice.

Go ahead and press play and follow along…

“Fuego”

1. Oh man this is going to be great.
2. Great Fishman work on the intro.
3. Great vocal mix and harmonies on the singing to begin the song.
4. I think any song that has “Wooooah oh oh” as a vocal section is just cheating. It works as a cliche, but it always feels like the band had nothing else planned so just went along with the jam and made their mouths jam too.
5. Speed-up section = YES.
6. Drumbeat is one of my favorites in all of rock history. Very fast Fishman accents happening here. Drums-a-plenty.
7. Great Trey tone, nice ‘verb.
8. Page picks a spot to dance around. Mike’s tone comes alive.
9. Fast section ends almost too fast, but as a studio cut, it somehow felt natural. Jam vehicle live, just a tease in the studio.
10. “Woah oh oh” comes back to bring people back to the song.
11. “Inside Your Fuego” vocals sounds very rock cliche good.
12. Who is Diego, by the way?
13. Rolling, rolling, rolling…
14. Nah nah nah nah nah nah.
15. High-pitched Fuego harmony is a little weird, must have been a Fishman idea.
16. Viking warrior part and Fishman return vocal felt out of place, but likely only because it was the first time I’ve heard it. I wonder if that’ll keep live. Definitely was not present in the live version back on Halloween 2013.
17. Standard Phish jam to end out the vocals. They do this rock-funk better than anyone.
18. Rolling, rolling, rolling…
19. End jam is sorta nice, but also feels unnecessary. Could be cool if that goes somewhere live.

“The Line”

20. Nice transition from “Fuego” into this track, feels like a good album flow right there.
21. “And you step to the line…” — great sound coming out of Trey’s vocals right there. Great reverb. Feels “live”.
22. Vocals pick up depth as the song continues.
23. “Woooh ooooh oooh” vocal backup is a nice touch. Cliched and works way better as a backup if you ask me.
24. Gets rocking a little harder with the “Dry mouth” line. The up and downs of this song keep you guessing if you hadn’t heard it before.
25. Personally, I love the message in this song, a truly self-aware band clearly looking to move on from their own free-throw misses in the past. It’s a place you can only get to with 30 years of doing something, anything, in a sustained fashion. There’s no way you don’t look back and think “damn I really blew that one…” — and I love that they’re not putting it under the rug anywhere and just owning up to it here.
26. End jam is a perfect rock song coda, maybe one of the best the band has ever done.

“Devotion to a Dream”

27. New “Kill Devil Falls” jam right here.
28. Trey vocal tone is very strong. Background vocals blend well.
29. “All it was was a fairy tale and devotion to a dream.” Double was FTW.
30. Love the guitar tone that comes in with the first line, seems unique for Trey.
31. Very upbeat and uplifting song here. Feels like a happy band singing this one. The verse where everyone is singing is very strong.
32. Trey solo over the jam is confident, definitely a solid line there.
33. “It’s today today today!” vocals over band stop is awesome. Very nice way to end that one.

“Halfway to the Moon”

34. BPM comes down a little bit to get into this one.
35. Page starts singing and I got chills really fast. :::swoon:::
36. Little Trey backup on “keep the pattern until June…” is a nice touch.
37. Page vocal tone is strong.
38. Mix is just beautiful, really sounds like the way Phish just sounds naturally to me.
39. Page gets a solo here which is a nice change from the Trey solo’s we’ve heard so far. Love the way he enters into the section.
40. Background vocals on this are beautiful. Very Pink Floyd to me. Very soulful.
41. Return to the main vocal is tight.
42. Trey backup solo here gets proper mix treatment as this song is all Page.
43. Is that a bell I hear hitting the fourth note of the little outro part?

“Winterqueen”

44. Mellow intro, guitar plus Trey only.
45. I wish that I controlled the skies, too.
46. Page organ floats in nicely, then the rest of the band follows.
47. Great mix of instruments and vocals to begin this one.
48. Very much a “Driver” type of tune, full band is playing but the focus is the lyrics and the story.
49. Does Trey think he’s the Prince of Music on guitar?
50. Ooooh, the section where the full band starts playing is so good. Horns start floating in. Beautiful, beautiful, beautful music right there.

“Sing Monica”

51. Tones to start the song are new for the band. Need to re-listen.
52. Loving the vocal tone.
53. The “Sing Monica” vocal harmony is cool, definitely a new style.
54. “Desired me” by Page. #AWWWWW.
55. Do I hear some vocal flanging on this one? Interesting.
56. Rocking guitar solo to get to the end jam.
57. “Sing Monica” getting some treatment, tons of vocals interspersed.
58. Band drops, and vox keep the song rocking. Band returns. I liked that part.
59. Guitar note to end the song, thought the end was an interesting set up. Not how I remember it live.

“555″

60. Mike begins here with Fish, and all of a sudden we’re in The Story of the Ghost style funk. Great placement.
61. Background singers on this are soooooo good with Cactus.
62. The sections the band backs up have a great effect on the vocals.
63. Background singers makes this whole thing very funky and soulful.
64. They should have played this at Jazz Fest with a horn section. Come on, guys.
65. This song is so busy but really well done; everything has a place. Nothing feels too over-bearing even though there’s a lot happening on this one.
66. I like how they get all “Carini” at the end of this one and it kinda refrains out into a “555″ repeating vocal and Trey’s solo enters the song over the full band playing around the section. Horns still present.
67. Nice little NOLA style end on that one. Definitely a strong Mike tune.

“Waiting All Night”

68. The new “Theme from the Bottom”. Or “Roggae”. It’ll be placed in a set to give the band a minute to relax and show off what they can do when they want to create beauty on the stage.
69. Given that this was the first release from the band I feel like I’ve had more time with this one, but the impact is still there. It’s mellow Phish, pretty Phish, “underwater” Phish…. and will be infinitely perfect as a set two transition song to give the band a breather.
70. Love the bass boom that Mike drops into this one. Or is that Page. It’s like his “meatball” noise.
71. Really like the Trey line at the end of this song.
72. “I said I’m sorry…” – it’s okay, Trey, I forgive you. :)

“Wombat”

73. Vocals on the intro. LOL.
74. Okay wait, this is silly. It sounds like a demo compared to the rest of the album.
75. Pretty slow compared to the version they did live.
76. “Cuddly but deadly…” – still funny.
77. I’m not sure why Wilson needs a name drop on this one. It just confuses us, like, was there a wombat in Gamehendge? Or was there a Wilson on the TV show, Fish?
78. The boom noise to begin the jam – YES.
79. Where did they record this vs. the rest of the album? Sounds like a different location.
80. Love that they bring in the background vocals and horns on this. I’m actually laughing out loud right now.
81. With a fade outro! Wow. It’s almost as if they said “okay we need something silly on this, we’re taking ourselves way too seriously the rest of the album…”

“Wingsuit”

82. Putting this last sorta makes me wonder if the band thought that “starting” with a slow groove like this wouldn’t be a great way to start an album. But I actually thought this was fantastic to open the second set at Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City.
83. “You’ll never win the major only shooting par” — so many sports references from this band this time around.
84. “And it feels good” vocals sound great.
85. Page really lays the foundation on this and gives a lot of the beauty of the song to the keys.
86. “You fly where you choose…” — #metaphor
87. The section where the band gets quiet and BAM, the end coda of the album is just classic stadium rocker Phish. That was a good move.
88. “Time to put your wingsuit on…” echoes out over an ethereal ending and a cut. Album over. Nicely done, boys.