Album Review: Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie

The music of Phosphorescent (Matthew Houck) has been sorely missed over the past few years, especially after the glorious high that was his breakthrough album, Muchacho. Houck now returns with C’est La Vie – it’s arrival making you feel like a kid on Christmas morning, evoking the thrill of not knowing what you’re going to get, but knowing for certain that it’s going to be marvelous. Houck’s delicious blend of americana, folk, country, rock, etc, creates an essence of magnificence that defines everything he pours his heart into, and it continues to shine brightly in this new album. C’est La Vie is undeniably beautiful, exuding a warmth and maturity that contrasts the emotional turbulence we’ve heard from Houck in the past.

Black Moon/Silver Waves is a lush, alluring wordless introduction to the record, as is its ending piece, Black Waves/Silver Moon. Saturated with mysticism, these divinely restorative instrumentals seal the album with zenful euphoria. In between, we have sumptuous tracks like C’est La Vie No. 2, which translates to such is life. It’s a subtly jubilant song that reveals a peaceful acceptance of whatever life brings. Close your eyes, and New Birth In New England will have you smiling big, with it’s groovy, lighthearted-ness transporting you to your happy place – perhaps it’s dancing under the moonlight with a mojito in hand or enjoying your favorite neighborhood bar.

There From Here has a psychedelic vibe, and feels like freeing summer breeze. Its lyrics reflect Houck’s awe when looking back at where he is now compared to last year, referencing his move to Nashville as an unexpected surprise. Beautiful Boy, a soothingly illuminating song about the unconditional love felt by a first time parent, offers similarly calming, sunkissed textures.

While C’est La Vie isn’t sonically as triumphant as Muchacho, it still deserves equal praise and recognition for the expansive, subliminal album that it is. Nothing short of majestic, Houck’s music always seems to revive us. Each song draws from differing styles, creating its own lustrous appeal while filling up space beautifully and intelligently, truly radiating phosphorescence.

Julia Kwan