Saturday, June 14, 2008

"Evil Urges" by My Morning Jacket

This album has me by the short and curlies.

It’s certainly got elements of past MMJ albums, but they’ve upped the ante on this one, folks. If 2005’s “Z” was their “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots”, then this one is their “At War With The Mystics”. Like that 2006 album by the Flaming Lips, MMJ seem absolutely hell bent on proving to their fan base that they’re not a band to be pigeonholed. If you need proof, listen to the 3rd song (Highly Suspicious”), which seems to be a curt “f@*k you” to anyone who thought they were going to release another “At Dawn” or “It Still Moves”. Jim James is channeling his inner Prince and, I’ll be honest here, it’s kinda jarring at first. Batting third in the line up, this song is meant to polarize, to spark debate, and if you read any of the customer reviews on Amazon or itunes you’ll see that I’m on the right track. The title song, I Think I’m Going To Scream pt 1 and Highly Suspicious are experimental turns, but by the fourth track and first single off the album, I’m Amazed, you’re back in classic MMJ territory.
There are elements of early 70’s Laural Canyon on here too, but not in a sugary sweet way, more like the Eagles circa One Of These Nights. It stays this way through the middle section until it hit’s the raging rocker Aluminum Park, and ends with the Pet Shop Boys-meet-Pink Floyd 8+ minute epic I Think I’m Going To Scream, one of my favorite tracks on the album.
One of the big differences I found on Evil Urges is the almost total lack of effects used on Jim James’ voice. For the most part it’s crystal clear, up front in the mix, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing as the dude’s got some pipes.
Overall the album is sequenced very well, the flow is tight and the production is top notch (but almost over-produced on a couple of tracks--almost). Not a perfect album, but a very, very good one. Not sure if I like it as much as “Z”, but it’s growin’ on me.
Four stars (and possibly ½ star more) out of five. One of the top albums of 2008, so far.

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