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Phosphorescent's new album, Muchacho, comes out March 19. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Listen: Phosphorescent, 'Muchacho'

Mar 3, 2013

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Stephen Thompson

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An Alabama native now based in Brooklyn, Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck sings with wryly weary raggedness to suit his late-at-night laments. Even when their arrangements feel grand and fleshed-out, epic and searching, Houck's best songs come off like intimate conversations with a confidante — wise and soft, and warmed by experience.

The gorgeous new Muchacho, out March 19, finds a way to aim heavenward while still hitting nerves closer to home. In a series of humbly soaring ballads that drift and bloom over five, six and even seven minutes, the band's sixth album captures a bit of the grandiose loveliness of Phosphorescent's choirboy-folk peers in Fleet Foxes and My Morning Jacket. But even as it aims for celestial bliss in songs with titles like "Sun, Arise! (An Invocation, An Introduction)," Phosphorescent remains rooted in dusty, personal, earthbound concerns, thanks in large part to the winningly roughed-up, beautifully human voice at its core.

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