US folk-pop group can't live up to the quality set by their neighbour Justin Vernon

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Phox - 'Phox'

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Phox – ‘Phox’

Phox are a six-piece folk pop band from Baraboo, Wisconsin. This, their debut, was recorded in neighbour Justin Vernon’s studio, though the emphatic ‘Shrinking Violets’ and Laura Veirs-esque ‘Satyr And The Faun’ are the only moments they threaten to get near the quality of Bon Iver’s output. Too often they veer dangerously into acoustic whimsy, the kind you’d find on an advert for a software giant who couldn’t get clearance for the original song, so commissions a homeopathically diluted cover. ‘Slow Motion’, complete with ukulele, whistling and clarinet solo is most guilty of this. What saves that song, and indeed the album as a whole, is Monica Martin’s honeyed voice; it’s full of soul, even when the arrangements aren’t.

Andy Welch

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Record label:Partisan