Picks and Pans Review: Pump Up the Jam

updated 09/14/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/14/2009 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Joy |

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It's no surprise that the new Phish disc—the quartet's first studio album in five years—features songs that are meant to be played live. For the megapopular touring band, the real magic happens on the road. On Joy these hippie dudes are happiest when stretching out their musical limbs in extended jams that leave plenty of room for solos. Just check out "Backwards Down the Number Line," the festival-ready single that should come with its own Hacky Sack, or the bluesy "Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan," where frontman Trey Anastasio sings, "Got a blank space where my mind should be." But you have to wait until the penultimate track for the centerpiece, "Time Turns Elastic," a winding epic that clocks in at 13½ minutes.

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