Wednesday, 23 April 2008

album review - my morning jacket 'evil urges'

god-fearing, reverb-loving hirsute rubes my morning jacket are about to release their fifth studio album, evil urges. will it be this year's thing that everybody reckons is pretty good and worth talking about? GMS investigates.

i thought their last effort, Z, which incorporated new elements such as cod-reggae and christian pop into their howling country-rock sound, was a bit of a miss-step. i think that puts me in the minority, but i'm all for minorities. i hope they win as many rights as they can handle.

on the strength of its cover art, which recalls mansun's prog bombshell six, the outlook for evil urges is not so good. but wait! let's listen to the record.

1. evil urges

a high-pitched beck-does-prince vocal, over a loose, ringing, led zep-style guitar hook. the two work against each other, but it seems to hang together in spite of itself.

2. touch me i'm going to scream

a hazy, neil young type of thing, which would sit comfortably on it still moves. but with a juddering drum pattern, an 80s bassline and a monotone chorus. as if to say, this wouldn't sit comfortably on it still moves.

3. highly suspicious

more prince - 'kiss', in particular. the rest of the band pretend to be robots. sexy robots? i'll be the judge of that.

4. i'm amazed

back to the older sound, this is like a looser credence clearwater revival. a bit repetitive. surprisingly, so far, the 80s are winning.

5. thank you too

playing it straight down the middle, this sounds like a late 70s eagles record, which might appeal but probably won't. lyrically, it's their most straightforwardly earnest work since 'gideon'.

6.sec walking

"left leg, right leg, one leg at a time, i keep on walking". i think this might be a cover of that randy newman song from family guy, except they seem to mean it. the tune is pretty good, though - woozy slide guitar, nasally lead vocal, 70s soul backing singers. conway twitty?

7. two halves

very direct, almost like teenage fanclub or the lemonheads soundtracking a john hughes movie. i quite like that sort of thing, but my girlfriend came in to complain. no john motson, incidentally. how's about a picture to break things up?


spare, fingerpicked, with a vocal that highlights the lyrics a bit too much. as far as songs about sexy librarians go, not half as good as 'the librarian' by hefner. intriguing references to "karen of the carpenters" and "god".

9. look at you

nice but dull. circa 1973.

10. aluminum park

that's "aluminium", if you please. this has a tightly-wound guitar riff, plenty of piano, and a catchy chorus. it's a lot like dennis wilson's solo records, with a bit of cheap trick thrown in. probably the most obvious single, unless they're going to sell the record on the strength of their impressions of morris day and the time.

11. remnants

the jacket get an "A from moe dee for sticking to themes" - this also sounds like cheap trick. but from one of their rubbishy 80s albums.

12. smokin' from shootin'

a nice, reflective ante-penultimate excursion, slightly undermined by clunky lyrics. builds to a jarring chorus pretty well, though.

13.touch me i'm going to scream part 2

the traditional epic closer. not as good as 'strangulation!' or 'one in the same', but very good. starts with NES-style keyboard bloops, and builds steadily, without ever quite letting go. if they ever manage to play a gig in the uk without half the band quitting and the show being cancelled, i'd let them do this one.

14. good intentions

six second blast of nonsense.

in toto

not as good as their first three, but one of the better albums of the year so far. z saw the band experimenting with new styles without much conviction or success, but evil urges shows more commitment and range, making it a far more interesting album. if people decide it's their masterpiece, expect a lot of comparisons to ok computer - both are complicated, packed with jarring elements that nonetheless hang together, and possibly 'say' something or other. it's released in june, by which time i'll either think it's genius or nonsense. probably the former.

my morning jacket - 'evil urges'


Anonymous said...

I haven't heard "Evil Urges" yet, but I did download a new MMJ album called "Songs 4-13". It's pretty good.

c-unit said...

You missed out librarian girl by michael jackson

Ass Hat said...

building a chat-eau right there, c-unit.