My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket


3.5
great

Review

by Sunnyvale STAFF
October 23rd, 2021 | 24 replies


Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An uneven self-titled effort which encapsulates the band’s storied career

For over two decades, My Morning Jacket has stood alone, more or less. One of the biggest names in the indie sphere, as well as being scions of good old-fashioned rock music, the band has touched on a lot of different styles over the years, including indie meets country/folk on their debut The Tennessee Fire (eternally both overlooked and underrated), jamming Southern rock on It Still Moves , and accessible indie-psych on The Waterfall , with all sorts of variations in between. While the band’s greatest achievements have arguably lay more in the realm of individual songs rather than full albums, the release of a new MMJ record is still an event. This is especially true in this case, being the band’s first LP release of new material since 2015 (last year’s release The Waterfall II was recorded alongside its predecessor back in 2013).

There are two stereotypical categories for self-titled releases late in an artist’s career: either the album is an impressive work which illuminates everything remarkable about the group in question, or it’s a bland and uninspired piece which sparks jokes about the band not even being able to come up with a creative album title. Without further ado, My Morning Jacket falls somewhere in between those two extremes. On the bright side, the band clearly still possesses ambition and vision, with a fair amount of variety present and numerous songs (often lengthy) being well-executed and all-around enjoyable. Less impressively, this is an inconsistent collection of tunes which also doesn’t quite have the stylistic cohesion of some of MMJ’s other records. Perhaps this judgment is fitting, as it serves as another demonstration of the group’s genius while also reminding the listener that even the releases during the band’s zenith were never quite flawless.

Opinions may vary, but for this reviewer My Morning Jacket doesn’t truly hit its stride until the third track, “In Color”, a near masterpiece of shimmering psychedelia, and a rock epic with a ponderous gait similar to Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You”. Album centerpiece “The Devil’s In The Details” also shines, with a placid and minimal backdrop encircling perhaps the LP’s best lyrics, and also distinguished by its spaced-out and vaguely jazzy outro. Finally, closer “I Could Never Get Enough” is a slow-burning, sweetly romantic piece, ending the album on another high note. The aforementioned three tracks are the record’s longest (each over seven minutes in duration), and arguably also the most choice cuts. MMJ has always known how to write a lengthier song, just look at “Phone Went West” or “Lay Low” for proof, let alone nearly every tune from It Still Moves , and it appears on this album that they thrive when the music is given more room to breathe. This isn’t to say that some of the smaller-scale tunes aren’t great as well though, in particular, the mellow and catchy “Never In The Real World” and divine guitar tone of “Out Of Range, Pt. 2” deserve a mention. However, there are also a few missteps, notably “Love Love Love” with its ultimately tedious funky groove, and “Complex”, which is ironically a fairly uninteresting if competent straightforward rock track.

Comparing My Morning Jacket to its most recent predecessor, The Waterfall II will likely prove divisive. Personally, I’d argue that the former reaches higher peaks than the latter, but falters on the question of consistent quality. A good chunk of the songs on MMJ’s latest explore sonic territory familiar to the group’s last few efforts (mellow and accessible psych-tinged indie), but the band deserves kudos for branching out ambitiously here and there. A hallmark of the band’s success throughout their lengthy career has been their notable ability to produce perfect songs in a variety of ways, from a masterpiece of dreamy melancholy like “Butch Cassidy” to the pure rocking bliss of “One Big Holiday” to the ebulliently catchy songcraft of “Anytime”. I’m not sure any of the tracks on this album quite measure up to those classics, but there are several that are close, and the band deserves credit for still swinging for the fences after over twenty years of music-making. My Morning Jacket hits at times and misses at others, but all told it is a very respectable return for an iconic band.



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user ratings (35)
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Second year in a row reviewing a My Morning Jacket album!



Album won't convince anyone who doesn't like the band, but definitely worth checking for fans

Sowing
Moderator
October 23rd 2021


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm so glad someone reviewed this. No staffer dibbed it and even though I like it I was kind of dreading finding the time to cover it lol.

This is a small step down from the Waterfall albums for me, but it's still early - I've only listened one and a half times. I'm thinking it will probably grow.

Great write-up as always!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Cheers Sowing! Yeah, crazy amount of quality high-profile releases just came out.



For me, I'd take this over the original Waterfall but behind Waterfall II, but they're all similar quality

Sowing
Moderator
October 23rd 2021


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've only heard Circuital onward, but Waterfall II is by far my favorite MMJ. An easy 4.5. I think it was you who told me to get on their previous catalog, particularly Z, back when II dropped in 2020...but I still haven't done it lol.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Haha, yeah, I think I've suggested that a few times. Z isn't my favorite of their albums, but it's definitely their "classic period" record which is closest to their newer sound. You'd almost certainly love it.

hel9000
October 23rd 2021


1525 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

nice review as always. i'll give this a listen but the singles didn't entice me, Love Love Love in particular kind of sounded like a parody of MMJ. but we'll see!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 23rd 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Thanks @hel9000! To be honest, the singles are pretty clearly the worst songs here in my book, so don't let that mislead you.

bigguytoo9
October 23rd 2021


1409 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am enjoying this album but not as much as previous works.

dedex
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2021


12773 Comments


never listened to these dudes and won't start here. that said, great read!

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 24th 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Cheers dedex! If you want to check out the band, It Still Moves or Z is definitely your best entry point.

letsgofishing
October 25th 2021


1705 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In Color is such a phenomenal revelatory track. The band as a whole just feels a lot more comfortable and loose in this record, which is really welcome.



All in all, this follows the trend of My Morning Jacket's albums being inoffensively alright, and you should just find a live recording if you want to have your head blown wide open.

pennyroyal22
October 26th 2021


97 Comments


FYI it would be 'without further ado'. 'Without further adieu' would mean 'without further goodbye'.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 26th 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Nice catch @pennyroyal22, updated that.



@letsgofishing, In Color is definitely one of the best here. I'd put a good chunk of MMJ's albums as better than "inoffensively alright", but they have been generally trending in that direction.

ChrimzonCanine
October 26th 2021


2080 Comments


Cover art looks like something from an early 70s prog band

Sowing
Moderator
October 26th 2021


43933 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Cover art looks like something from an early 70s prog band"

That makes me want to like this album even more

letsgofishing
October 26th 2021


1705 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Sunnyvale - Yeah, don't get me wrong, I have deep love for this band. Just ask poor Slex who has had to listen to me glorify this band far too many times.



I think The Tennessee Fire and Z are both great records, especially Z, At Dawn and It Still Moves both approach greatness, and I think the band has been largely consistently good, even if Circuital is pretty damn flat.



But, the studio has never really been this band's strength. I don't think I'd label any of their studio records as a classic - and with as insanely talented as this band is, that's pretty telling.



letsgofishing
October 26th 2021


1705 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Sowing - if you can subscribe to Nugs, they have all three concerts of the One Big Holiday 2018 festival in full and in excellent quality where they played all their records from The Tennessee Fire to Waterfall 1 in a row.



That's the best way to get into this band.

Storm In A Teacup
October 26th 2021


45675 Comments


Band always sounded to me more of the wet blanket variety rather than a morning jacket type.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
October 27th 2021


5815 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Cheers @letsgofishing! Agree with most of those points, also always glad to see another fan of The Tennessee Fire.

letsgofishing
October 27th 2021


1705 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I have such mixed feelings on The Tennessee Fire. Its greatest charm, that damned iconic “we recorded this in an empty silo” production, is also its greatest weakness. I’d love to see the band go back and re-record it now, but that would also be blasphemy and they’d be damned for all eternity. As songwriting goes, though, that record has something special to it.



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