Matthew Houck releases his first album in five years and it’s his seventh. It was recorded at Matthew’s Spirit Sound Studio in Nashville. All encompassing swoops and swooning passes of sound pulsate with throbbing keyboards. Vamping synths back a sobbing heart of a voice. Like country songs from the lonesome prairie spruced up by Ennio Morricone on a synth. An occasional tinge of a Caribbean beach party atmosphere waft by. A hazy phazy swoosh of woozy synths curling and flowing and caressing the melody. And some serious heartbroken guitar shredding sunspots into your vision.
Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck’s own Spirit Sounds Studio, C’est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.
For years, Phosphorescent’s rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single “Song for Zula” now well over 50 million streams.
A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C’est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there’s a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin’. The magic of Matthew Houck’s music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It’s not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it’s definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalog, is front and center here.
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