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    By Shelbi Glover

    My iTunes library lists Phourist’s music as an “unknown genre.” I’m sure it’s just a less-than-comprehensive list of genres, but it feels more like a sign from the musical divinities. Phourist’s new album, While We Still Have the Morning, is an odd mix of folk, piano ballads and strong, chilling vocals that come together to create something along the lines of a cosmic dissonance.

    At least, “cosmic dissonance” is what I wrote down while listening to it for the first time. Does it make sense to you now? Probably not. Will it make sense when you listen to it? Potentially.

    The Louisville-based group is led by Nick Hill, who founded Phourist as a solo project; he was later joined by Scott Boice on drums and Stuart Wicke on bass. Their other releases include The Wave and the Powers That Be, Terrestrial DaydreamBreathe Deep and In Infinite Indigo. Their upcoming appearances include a slot at Louisville’s own Poorcastle Festival, where they will be playing on July 7, 2017.

    While We Still Have the Morning is introduced to us gracefully, beginning with a fragile piano melody accompanied by bird song. These are quickly flung to the background in favor of what sounds like the Millennium Falcon hitting hyperspeed. It’s your backyard and a space adventure all at once.

    Unfortunately, the adventure quickly turns sour. The continuing dissonance is inconsistent at best, annoying at worst. (One can only take so much of the Millennium Falcon noises and random piano smashing, guys!) The track, “Sorry,” is absolutely brilliant in concept —  Nick Hill sings “they lead you on” over and over in a near desperate tone, all the while backed by powerful drums and a gorgeous piano melody. However, this song, too, falls into the trap of the band’s current obsession with creating something undeniably “different.” The once powerful melody is overpowered by a superfluous bass line, which renders it ineffective. Its natural beauty is a complete waste. Sigh.

    Phourist achieves partial redemption a few tracks later with “I Will Find You There,” which takes everything good about “Sorry” and none of the annoying. It’s without a doubt the simplest song on the album, which reveals a beautiful authenticity to Hill’s vocals — especially his flawless falsetto. Two tracks later, “Mountaintops” comes in for the Hail Mary at the compelling two-minute mark — but only after a snooze-inducing start.

    Does it complete the pass for the touchdown? Ah, so close — but no. The next two tracks are, frankly, boring. It’s an anticlimactic end to an album full of unreached potential. The finale is unsatisfying, concluding only in seagull noises and crashing waves — can you say “aural cliché?” It’s like expecting a fireworks show and getting a sparkler.

    Where are my fireworks, Nick? Where’s my crazy weird finale to this exploratory, indie “Life of Pablo” you’ve prepared me for? Did they get rained out? Did you forget to bring your lighter?

    Whatever the reason, you lost me. You can keep your sparkler.

    You can listen to While We Still Have the Morning here.

    Photo courtesy of Phourist

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