The Story of the Ghost

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Phish's The Story of the Ghost, the ninth album from neohippieville's most proficient and clever players, is their most commercially accessible offering to date, a slinky (and slightly funky) trip through a slim conceptual piece about a life-affirming spiritual quest -- or something like that; it all gets pretty confusing midway through. But Phish has never been a very literary group; instead, its fervent cult feasts on the technical agility of the band's prime and skilled instrumentalists, which is on grand display here. Yet, whatever charm that might come through at a Phish concert still can't quite transcend itself to record. Despite some good songs (the opening story-setting "Ghost," the groovy "Birds of a Feather," the strolling "Guyute") in a typically tuneless batch, The Story of the Ghost is occasionally sloppy, a bit smug, and often quite boring. In other words, another day in the studio for Phish.

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