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Rolling Stone Review of Round Room


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Phish Round Room (Elektra)

Two weeks of rehearsal can't make up for a two-year hiatus, but Phish went for chemistry and spontaneity in rushing out this four-day session as its studio comeback. Like a Phish concert, it aims for the feeling to outweigh the flaws, and modestly succeeds. Four tracks hover near the ten-minute mark with gliding jams that reflect the Vermont quartet's onstage strength. But songwriting and vocals fall short with demo-like fragility, and the rock-solid "46 Days" is slave to the Stones' influence. Guitarist Trey Anastasio penned ten songs, mainly with lyricist Tom Marshall, though bassist Mike Gordon lends contrast with ghostly harmonies as well as two tunes that draw from his whimsical work with Leo Kottke. Pianist Page McConnell and drummer Jon Fishman also add their flourishes across the shifting "Walls of the Cave." More preparation and production might have helped round out this seventy-eight-minute CD, but its earthy indulgences also make it interesting. (PAUL ROBICHEAU)

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