Review Summary: Moby’s debut album is a formulaic techno album with little to offer aside from repetitive beats and gaudy production.
Moby is a man of impressive versatility. That being said, the results haven’t always been as astounding as his perseverance; case in point: his debut album. On the surface, it’s quite easy to visualize what Moby is shooting for, but the dearth of variety, something which now seems so ingrained in Moby’s DNA, reeks of single-mindedness. Thus, Moby’s self-titled LP is a shallow techno record with few distinguishing assets and an anxious exterior that is, at best, quite irksome.
For what it’s worth, the album accomplishes what it sets out to do: bombard the listener with fast-paced, immediate beats that make pure sedentary absorption seem like a feat of strength. It’s flashy dance music for those who prefer to skip the foreplay. However, the impact of the beats is dead on arrival since the tracks fail to benefit from any notable builds or progressions. With the exception of more reserved moments like “Mercy”, “Slight Return”, and “Stream”, Moby provides little room for the individual tracks to breathe of their own volition. This, in turn, welcomes mind-numbing repetition and deters personality.
Album opener “Drop a Beat”, for instance, is obnoxious in its constant electronic babbling. Tracks like “Next Is the E”, “Have You Seen My Baby"”, and “Ah-Ah” fail to establish any sort of contrast in tone and would be completely forgettable if it weren’t for the peculiar vocal samples that frequently overstay their welcome. Without any detours, this collection of tracks with little to no charm exudes considerable exhaustion. Its lack of power would put the listener to sleep if it weren’t for the incessantly gaudy beats that strike at the listener’s heels. On some level, tracks like “Help Me to Believe” and “Go” can be amusing, but these moments are beaten down by the sheer aimlessness throughout most of the record’s overlong duration.
On this LP, Moby simply fails to deliver sounds that truly warrant the listener’s attention. Instead he grabs for the listener’s awareness through over-the-top production styles and clamorous redundancy. The end result feels unfinished with beats that fail to expand and energy that sounds strictly artificial. With each track, Moby lays down a frenetic electronic template but grows complacent within its bare-boned texture. He often hurls some creative effects into the mix, but they rarely displace the formulaic quality of tracks like “Yeah”.
Rather than giving us a slice of his character, Moby hides behind commonplace electro-breakdowns. Thus, his self-titled debut lacks a coherent voice. Interesting tracks like “Mercy” exhibit Moby’s capacity for depth and atmosphere, but they are overruled by the album’s garish tendencies. At the end of the day, it’s just not as fun as it tries to be.