Muchacho - Phosphorescent
Metascore
85

Universal acclaim - based on 26 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 26
  2. Negative: 0 out of 26
  1. 80
    Muchacho is a well balanced listen, one that finds Houck adding new hues to old canvases and striking gold at every turn.
  2. Mar 21, 2013
    88
    Every sound is lovingly recorded and given a cradle of space.
  3. It’s rare to find a lyricist so honest and a vocalist so earnest, and when put into song it seems to Houck as if every word is vital and cathartic and necessary.
  4. Mar 20, 2013
    74
    There are experimental beauties, but Matthew Houck is at his best when he returns to familiar sounds.
  5. Mar 20, 2013
    80
    No matter what happens to Phosphorescent from here on out, Muchacho is an artist setting a new standard.
  6. Mar 19, 2013
    93
    Powerfully, the evolution of the songcraft on Muchacho doesn’t arrive as a random left turn but instead progresses directly out of Phosphorescent’s own canon.
  7. Mar 19, 2013
    80
    Phosphorescent’s Muchacho is the kind of album that will take two listens to decide you hate it and then another three to realize how much you actually love it.
  8. Mar 19, 2013
    91
    Muchacho is also Houck’s most accomplished release to date--his most heartrending and life-affirming, equal parts lost-love devastation and hip-swaying, horn-led exultation.
  9. Mar 19, 2013
    60
    A raucous centrepiece it is not. A soundtrack for a nightcap alone though? Absolutely.
  10. Mar 18, 2013
    80
    The scriptural cadence and mythic gravity of Mr. Houck’s lyrics, here and elsewhere, manage not to overburden his emotional payload.
  11. Mar 18, 2013
    80
    As Phosphorescent continues to evolve as a project, widening its range and sharpening its lyrical acumen, that commitment has become more apparent, culminating in his best album yet.
  12. Mar 18, 2013
    80
    What is clear, even through the sometimes heavier-than-necessary arrangements, is that Muchacho has some of Houck's best songwriting since his early days, seemingly tapped into the grainy pain, hard-living tendencies, and wandering muse of his subconscious with the most listenable results Phosphorescent has produced in years.
  13. Mar 18, 2013
    60
    It is an album about the ways in which we recover, the ways in which we find ourselves after feeling loss. It’s also an album that, musically, full of fitful and exciting exploration.
  14. Mar 15, 2013
    90
    [A] momentous sixth LP. [No. 96, p.60]
  15. 80
    Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck augments his usual reedy Americana stylings with some unexpected developments on Muchacho.
  16. 80
    This atmospheric, rewarding gem that, despite its decidedly downbeat subject material, hops effortlessly over various woe-is-me traps is certainly worth the trouble its author’s had to go through to produce it.
  17. Mar 14, 2013
    70
    There probably aren’t enough moments that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but after the initial struggle to get into, it’s a rewarding record to return to.
  18. Mar 14, 2013
    70
    Muchacho is a record which can soothe even the darkest nights and moods.
  19. Mar 13, 2013
    80
    Houck’s sixth full-length album takes the mournful country-rock seemingly perfected on Here’s To Taking Things Easy and runs with it, creating his most realised record yet.
  20. Mar 13, 2013
    89
    ["Song for Zula" is] brutal, beautiful, and like the rest of Muchacho, masterfully executed.
  21. Mar 12, 2013
    80
    While the more traditional sounding songs that remain are unquestionably excellent, it does seem odd to leave such a good idea only half explored. [Apr 2013, p.108]
  22. Mar 12, 2013
    80
    A beautiful outing in hauntingly pastoral heartbreak. Impressive.
  23. Mar 8, 2013
    80
    Phosphorescent has followed 2010's country-rock homage Here's To Taking It easy with an equally magnificent beast, mixing country jams with claustrophobic electronica and mournful Mariachi horns to create a beautiful but discomforting album. [Apr 2013, p.74]
  24. Mar 8, 2013
    80
    Muchacho is a vibrant, evocative LP, and a welcome addition to the Phosphorescent catalogue.
  25. Mar 8, 2013
    80
    A hell of a production. [Apr 2013, p.87]
  26. 80
    He can do a tender, dreamy pop song, or he can plug in and just get straight to rocking. And anything in between is fair game.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 50 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Mar 19, 2013
    9
    While the influences of Fleetfoxes, MMJ and Bon Iver are clearly present, Matthew Houck has enough imagination to take the listener beyondWhile the influences of Fleetfoxes, MMJ and Bon Iver are clearly present, Matthew Houck has enough imagination to take the listener beyond into some truly original and sweet territory. This is a fantastic set and an early candidate for album of the year.. Full Review »
  2. Jan 30, 2014
    9
    Grammies missed this album. A perfect melding of country, electronica and great melodies. A mellow classic. Will look for more from thisGrammies missed this album. A perfect melding of country, electronica and great melodies. A mellow classic. Will look for more from this artist in the future. Full Review »
  3. Jun 1, 2013
    7
    It’s been a few years since ‘Here’s to Taking it Easy’ but now Phosphorescent the working moniker of Matthew Houck returns with probably hisIt’s been a few years since ‘Here’s to Taking it Easy’ but now Phosphorescent the working moniker of Matthew Houck returns with probably his most accessible album to date. The short but sweet ‘Muchacho’ is a vibrant mix of styles bookended by the mellow intro/outro of ‘Sun, Arise!’ and ‘Sun's Arising’. ‘Song For Zula’ veers dangerously close to U2 but somehow manages to end up more in the Bon Iver camp, this is followed by the catchy acoustic Bolen rumble of ‘Ride On Right On’ with its meandering tune and jubilant woos. ‘Terror In The Canyons (The Wounded Master)’ sounds a lot like Wilco, beautiful Americana with a drop of experimentation. ‘A Charm A Blade’ bursts into life at the chorus with a brass section that recalls The Polyphonic Spree at their most joyous. ‘Muchacho's Tune’ is based around a gorgeous slide guitar that underpins the song and compliments Houck’s vocals whereas the atmospheric piano in ‘A New Anhedonia’ shows a more melancholy side, as does ‘Down To Go’ which is like early Bonnie Prince Billy. I really like ‘The Quotidian Beasts’ but then I also like ‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak which it does resemble slightly, others might not be so forgiving. Lyrically and musically Houck is on top form and it’s hard not to fall for this record despite its short running time and if nothing else it’s a good starting place for new fans to discover his understated talent. Full Review »