Moby ‘Innocents’ Review: Moby collaborates with guest vocalists and new producer on ‘Innocents’. But his stylistic template remains largely unchanged.
Moby has had one interesting career path. He started off as a 90’s techno pioneer. But then he broke formula, releasing two albums that merged electronica, punk rock and metal (Everything Is Wrong, Animal Rights.)
Neither album sold huge, and he was eclipsed by competitors like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy.
Then unexpectedly he broke big with Play, a multimillion selling album that fused electronica with old blues samples. He audaciously licensed every single track for commercial use, and made a fortune.
And then the music industry collapsed; Moby seemed unsure of himself with middling works like 18, Hotel and Last Night.
But he regained his footing upon re-embracing his ambient soundscapes, making two respectable albums (Wait For Me and Destroyed.)
For his new album Innocents, Moby appeared ready to shake up his formula again. For the first time he’s not handling production duties, handing the reigns over to Mark Stent (Massive Attack, Muse, U2). And he’s assembled his largest group of collaborators to date.
So surprisingly Innocents sounds like standard Moby; A mix of melancholy and wistful ambient ambiance.
But while he may be treading water stylistically, it still sounds gorgeous.
Moby albums almost always feature guest vocals from sensual chanteuses and Innocents continues the tradition. Cold Specks Al Spyx’s performance on A Case For Shame is a particular standout, featuring a soulful delivery that recalls the Play album’s bluesy elements.
Skylar Grey contributes her sultry pipes to the apocalyptic blues of The Last Day.
Innocents also features several male vocalists. Damien Jurado’s androgynous falsetto meshes wonderfully with the ambient wash of Almost Home. And Flaming lips vocalist Wayne Coyne duets with Moby on The Perfect Life. Their off-key warbles make for an odd mix, and the upbeat, folksy tone makes it the most unusual track on the album.
But the highlight is The Lonely Night; Gravelly vocalist Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees, Queens of The Stone Age) delivers his signature whiskey soaked croak on a lullaby for the damned; Sometimes the rain is absurd/Still it’s what fate decides/Here comes the lonely night/I can’t escape my mind.
Innocents features several instrumentals. And while they’re pretty (Going Wrong the most effective), they don’t reach the emotional height of past pieces like God Moving Over The Face of The Waters.
Innocents closes with the Joy Division-ish Dogs. Moby goes solo here, singing in a lamenting tone: This is how, how we tried/This is how, how we cried/Like the dogs left outside.
Innocents may disappoint those who executed Moby to break his formula. But he still makes forlorn melody better than anyone. There are worse ruts to be stuck in.
Want to own ‘Innocents’ on iTunes or Amazon? Click on the proper links below.
[amazon_image id=”B00FB0K1HG” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Innocents[/amazon_image]
And you can stream Moby’s Innocents for free until its October 1st release on NPR’s website.