Progressive bluegrass quintet Punch Brothers throws out all rules on The Phosphorescent Blues, weaving classical, alt-rock, pop and jazz into an album that balances technicality with raw emotion.
The theme is clear - human connection in a technology-obsessed society. The 10-minute opener Familiarity is anything but: starting with Chris Thile's finger-twisting mandolin playing, the song shifts in unexpected places, then stops abruptly.
Next up is Julep, which makes you fully aware of time ticking with instruments mimicking a clock. Then a cheeky, full-band rendition of Debussy's Passepied serves as a prelude to the poppy I Blew It Off and Magnet. The band shows off its bluegrass best in Boll Weevil and explores a darker edge in Forgotten and Between 1st and A.
Last up is Little Lights, which plays on the idea of a virtual community, with a chorus sung by fan voices sent via social media.
The Phosphorescent Blues is a real treasure; in the band's words, "every moment a polished silver".