January 27, 2003 12:00 PM

Phish (Elektra)

Phish, a jam band known for its live shows, doesn’t usually perform as swimmingly on its studio albums. At times this disc—recorded in only four days in the barn of guitarist and lead singer Trey Anastasio—seems little more than a launching pad for the quartet’s first tour since taking a two-year hiatus following 2000’s Farmhouse. Songs such as “All of These Dreams” feel slapdash and wilted. But stage-sharp playing works on four energetic eight-minute-plus songs, complete with the band’s trademark fluid jams. Best is the tempo-shifting “Walls of the Cave.” More important for the group’s flower-powered followers, though, Round Room sends an important signal: Pack up the van and pick up some munchies, ’cause Phish has hit the road.

BOTTOM LINE: For phans only

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