The idea of splitting up must almost certainly have been in the collective Phish subconscious during the recording of this, their de facto farewell album. Undermind
is the most -- for lack of a better word -- "commercial" thing to have emerged from the lil' ol' band from Vermont in their two-decade history. The disc's initial single, "The Connection," clocks in at a sensible three minutes and doesn't veer off its chosen path, a trek through insistently chiming neo-R.E.M. territory, for even a moment. The burnished title track -- a sort of rustic funk groove that could've issued forth from Big Pink
-- is just as concise, and every bit as warming. Keyboardist Page McConnell asserts himself a bit more here than usual, lacing Undermind
with introspective, deliberate numbers, such as the subtly swelling "Army of One," that counterbalance the more skronky offerings cooked up by guitarist Trey Anastasio
. In keeping with his fondness for dadaist digressions, Anastasio outdoes himself with "A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing," which reconciles garage-band stomp with Sun Rastyled freakouts. In light of Phish's breakup announcement, Undermind
leaves something of a bittersweet aftertaste, but the satisfaction in knowing the band are bowing out at the top of their game makes it easy to accentuate the positive.