Innocents: more mediocre Moby manure
by Dan MacRae
Arts and Crafts
Party at Moby’s! Bring your (locally grown) pool noodles, VW ad music licensing requests and winky “It’s Over Nobody Listens to Techno” barbecue apron, CUZ IT’S GOIN’ DOWN! *sets off a wheelbarrow of sparklers*
Actually, let’s dial back the party stuff just a bit. This is more of a sitting cross-legged and looking out the apartment window sort of party. BYO chastened expression, please.
Innocents (album number 11 from Moby) has electronic music’s smoothest head inviting over a whole whack of guests to help knock out an album of microwaved woozy-dreamy, with the results landing somewhere between mixed and mediocre. It’s never good when the best tracks are ones you can happily tune out while checking your e-mail or clipping your toenails, but that’s the deal on Innocents. (And to be fair, sometimes you need a quality foot maintenance jam.)
Bringing a collection of guests onboard (Mark Lanegan, Skyler Grey and Cold Specks are among the drop-ins) seems like it’d lead to some exciting new results, but this album seems to tick most of the post-Play Moby stereotype boxes. Do you crave sorta bland atmospheric stuff that appeals to 48-year-old tea shop owners? Moby’s got the full length for you!
Innocents suffers from terminal blandness, with most of the album feeling like reheated leftovers of Moby’s more watery output of the past decade. (The lead cut, “Everything That Rises”, is the most agreeable track that fits the formula. Keep that in mind if you’re making a weird slideshow for YouTube explaining why your favourite TV characters have been secretly in love this whole time!) A few tracks aim for something with a bit more personality, but sadly they’re just painful to endure. The chief offender in that category is easily the Wayne Coyne-assisted “The Perfect Life” which is just a miserable foamy poo of faux celebratory pop. Yuck.
There are better albums to half-listen to this year. You’re better off letting Innocents disintegrate inside some other sucker’s ears.
Arts and Crafts
I could get on John McCauley’s case for singing “A baby cries and an old man dies” on the fifth Deer Tick record, but I won’t for a couple of reasons. One, the front guy for the Providence, Rhode Island band says, “This poetry ain’t worth a damn” elsewhere on here, so he beat me to the punch. Two, the group plays in a well-worn genre and they’re working to bring something new in small ways. Their roots rock has plenty of alt-country showstoppers and down-tempo numbers focused on McCauley’s massively shitty year of losing his fiancée and watching his father go to jail. The sadness of Negativity is never crushing or terribly morose, though. Even when he sings lines like “Tell me that our time was not spent in vain/Tell me I can sop it up and save it from the drain” in “Mirror Walls”, McCauley isn’t dragging the listener into his misery. He’s exorcizing it in fine style. /James Brotheridge
There’s always a frenetic, catchy-as-hell pop-rock act made up of wacky performers who roll around on stage floors threatening to break into the mainstream. The biggest and most enduring example remains the Hives, the Swedish rock band once hailed as “rock’s saviors”. I don’t know the ambitions of this Toronto quartet, but they’ve got the sound. They did change their name from Topanga to PUP, avoiding the wave of confusion with a new Boy Meets World show coming out but still being shit to search online. But that seems to be their style. Their self-titled debut is all go-for-broke exuberance. You can practically picture them playing their guitars behind their heads, fucking it up but still pulling it off. Their shouty vocals aren’t too far off upcoming tour partners Hollerado’s, and they’ve got the same quick bits of bludgeoning guitars, too. /James Brotheridge
Good Morning Fool
The precision of ’80s-styled pop works well for Luke Temple, who thrives with both stripped-down simplicity and overwhelming complexity. Here We Go Magic, the NYC resident’s main gig, has leaned towards krautrock’s experimentalism and structure more than its indie-rock roots. Running from that to Good Morning Fool’s synth pop makes sense for Temple. Leave the guy alone in a studio with all the drum machines and keyboards and he’ll come up with something compelling. He doesn’t escape the genre’s inherent nostalgia, though. On “Those Kids”, he sings, “I met the program director of MTV. He said, ‘If the kids don’t want your music, then neither do we.’” That observation needs to be said about as much as the “rap/crap” joke a class of parents have been repeating for years. But with a record full of fun indulgences, I don’t need to get on Temple’s back for not staying current. /James Brotheridge