Sound — 10
Phish's brilliant blend of progressive rock, jazz, country, funk, and simple melodic songwriting is at its peak in Lawn Boy. With two extended jams in the prog masterpieces "Reba" and "Run Like an Antelope," Phish's best asset is prominent. Arranged amidst classic Phish jazz/pop/psychedelic songwriting, the album is satisfies all of my musical desires, even those I didn't know I had until acquiring it. Trey Anastasio's songwriting is arguably as good as it's ever been, and his guitar playing both in the synchronized melodic runs with keyboardist Page McConnell and the simultaneously blistering and poignant solos is revelatory. The production is clean and warm, and Trey's guitar tone is exquisite. Phish's progressive rock inclinations come to the forefront, as most of the songs include some brilliant instrumental passages. The middle sections of The Squirming Coil and Bathtub Gin are classic Phish moments, and they translate perfectly live. Reba is a strong contender for the band's best song, and certainly one of Trey's most emotional and exhilarating solos in their studio catalogue. The dark funk of Split Open and Melt is simply one of the most unique sounds I've ever heard from a rock band, and the rousing choruses of Antelope and the well-known Bouncing Around the Room never fail to turn a bad day around.
Lyrics — 10
Phish's lyrics are always appropriate for the song, and the styles and arrangements range just as far afield as the music. The nonsense of Reba belies the chaos that ensues, while understand the mysteriously vague lyrics of Squirming Coil and SOAM differently every listen. Anastasio provides the bulk of the lyrics for the album, along with songwriting partner Tom Marshall. What Trey lacks in range, he makes up for with emotion, and the band makes up for it in their creative harmonies, rounds, and timing. Page's voice is sweet and silky like always on the title track, a song whose beauty would really stand out if it wasn't surrounded by the rest of the album. One of the things that I appreciate the most about Phish is their consistently high-quality output especially in the early 90s. And Lawn Boy certainly fulfills that requirement.
Overall Impression — 10
Ugh the question no phan wants to answer: what's your favorite Phish album? If it's not Rift or Billy Breathes (or Junta), than it is certainly Lawn Boy. It embodies Phish in my eyes, from their diverse influences to their emotional and humorous songwriting. Truly the whole album is a highlight, and there aren't too many non-Beatles-or-Zeppelin records that you can say that about. I can't fathom how most of it was written, and the pre-jam section of Reba blows my mind so much I need to mention it again. It is perfect to introduce newcomers to Phish, and I have done so many times with Lawn Boy to exactly the right results. But most importantly, dedicated Phish fans can still listen back and enjoy it again and again. I don't wish that I could here it again for the first time, as each subsequent listen to the songs, especially live, brings something new and amazing.