MOBY, These Systems Are Failing
For the journeyed Moby fan, there isn't much he hasn't tried. Being post 50, and commercially astute enough to have made himself financially secure in the last days of boom years, Moby is now in a place of relative freedom : freed, as such, from the commercial pressures of buying yet another rock star yacht, and and running his own label, and so on, he can do whatever he likes. If that means turning his back on touring at the time that almost everyone uses that as the only way of making money, so be it.
Unlike his other records, for the first time since 1996's much-underappreciated “Animal Rights”, this sees him take lead vocals on everything. He plays – as far as I can tell – every instrument himself, and, to be honest, it's a refreshing change. His voice is limited, fragile, human, and to me, an under-used instrument, as it's fragility is also its strength. I tire of hearing anonymous soul divas belting out yet another fucking ballad with great emotion like an overenthusiastic actor. So... it doesn't sound like anything he's done before. Unlike the broken-hearted metal rage of “Animal Rights”, this is more considered, but also blander, record. It has thought but has traded off urgency and honesty for a less raw approach. The songs are good, and all of them are solid, but they suffer from a lack of variation, from a monotone sound drawn from a cheap drum machine, from a set of identical keys and tempos, and all sounding the same. It doesn't feel like an album, but a collection of songs all thrown together with no structure. All of the songs are good on their own, but collectively they lack the sense of epic scale and depth his previous albums have enjoyed. On the other hand, it could be that this is an album that is dense and obtuse, that rewards continued listening, that reviews hidden depths if you work for it.
But maybe not. It's an unusual Moby record – a fast paced, lo-fi album of relatively obscure material designed not to be big hits – and for that, it's fascinating to hear.