Review Summary: Or learning how to sit as comfortably as possible in your own bubble.
For such an eclectic artist who back in 1995 mixed rave, ambient and punk on the rather underrated Everything Is Wrong
and a decade later tried his luck at becoming a rock star with Hotel
, Moby's career has ended up quite predictable as of lately. Retreating into an instantly recognizable, electronic downtempo bubble at the end of last decade, he delivered two strong efforts, Wait For Me
, that saw him pouring his heart out to create some of his most humble and personal tunes yet.
His latest set, Innocents
, doesn't quite stray from the current path, delivering more of the same. However, it features a wider range of collaborators and, overall, a more relaxed and soulful atmosphere. The warm strings and the sparse, stripped piano lines that accompany most of the record, bring to mind the comfortable ride that was 18
. Of course there are some brooding moments, such as the late night lullaby, 'Going Wrong' or the gorgeous Mark Lanegan-assisted highlight 'The Lonely Night', which could've been included on the ambient heavy, Wait For Me
and the cold and detached, Destroyed
, respectively. The latter's elegiac tone, provided by Mark's presence, fused with the haunting guitar lines, have created what's arguably the darkest track Moby has penned so far.
Other highlights include the lovely 'The Last Day', which mixes Skylar Grey's pristine voice with some trademark gospel samples. The dense, paranoid keyboards backing her, echo Keane's work on Under The Iron Sea
and are a welcomed change after the intense use of strings on the majority of Innocents
. Also, first single, 'A Case For Shame' and 'Almost Home' are another two essential cuts: the former, featuring Al Spx of Cold Specks, might as well be Moby's very own requiem, with the bleak piano leads and eerie synths. 'Almost Home', on the other hand, is a lot more reassuring, Damien Jurado's angelic falsetto being beautifully accompanied by a serene instrumental. Whether these two contrasting tracks have been put back-to-back on purpose or not, they really complement each other.
Unfortunately, the rest of Innocents
isn't as stellar as these collaborations. There are some issues that have been plaguing Moby's latest efforts, mainly the comfort zone in which he has enclosed himself in. The formula is more or less the same for each song, always carving the same basic canvas for the collaborator to put his own touch on. Some changes in structure are desperately needed, because he refuses to play with the main idea and several tunes end up slightly flat. While a fair number of his compositions are strong, others get dragged down for overstaying their welcome, relying solely on the initial impact. For example, the merry, anthemic 'Perfect Life', featuring Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, feels shallow and out of place here, rather than the meaningful tune it aims to be. Moreover, the 9-minute closer 'The Dogs' and 'Tell Me', the most experimental cut here, reveal everything halfway, thus peaking too soon. His meticulous approach to production and the high concentration of solid ideas (at the very least) show there is enough strength left in Moby to create another outstanding effort, yet he chooses to comfortably stick inside his own bubble.
ends up as a really contrasting record, featuring some of his best songs in more than a decade and some predictable material that rehashes the same elements. Even if there's a lot of attention to details, the collaborators are the ones who lift the standards this time around. Still, there's enough substance for the fans to cling onto until the next release and even though the replay value isn't quite as high as with his previous two offerings, this is another solid addition to Moby's expansive catalog.