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All of the prayers to the rock gods have been answered. Coldplay is releasing a new album, southern rockers Kings of Leon have made it big and the new Strokes album was successful. On top of all that, we also have something else to celebrate: a new My Morning Jacket album.
Circuital is the band’s sixth studio album, and is a follow-up to 2008’s Evil Urges. The album is an interesting thing. Instead of showcasing some sort of new found power, the band is reverting to a lot of their earlier sound. Jim James, MMJ’s front man, said, “We want people to have almost the exact opposite experience they had last time.” I’d say they were pretty successful.
While staying true to the band’s rock roots, Circuital is a brilliant blend of pop hooks with some excellent guitar chords, all the while being mixed with lots and lots of keyboard. James’ voice seems to have a lot more power, and all the songs seem to have a bit of a harder edge.
MMJ has also taken notes from the books of other music veterans. “Outta My System” has a definite Beach Boys sound to it, but was obviously altered to fit MMJ’s niche. The song is slow, but all the while, remains a wonderfully fused version of pop and rock. It has enough of a tempo where you’re not about to fall asleep listing to it, but it is still chill and relaxing (what MMJ is known for).
The end of the album really reminds us who the band is. The last two tracks, “Slow Slow Tune” and “Moving Away”, are very slow, just as we know MMJ songs to be. They are songs that are simple instrument/vocal combinations.
Overall, I wouldn’t say this is their best work. The album is a mix of mostly pop-rock songs mixed with a few weird ones that you would have expected to see on a deluxe version of Evil Urges. Each song has most of the same elements, and sometimes, it is difficult to listen to because everything sounds so similar. Nothing really stands out on this album either (except maybe the tribal war cries on “Victory Dance”). Due to this, many MMJ fans were disappointed in the album. Personally, I think this album does work, but only if you are willing to let go of preconceived notions of what you think it should be.
This is just another journey James and My Morning Jacket are taking. They are known for mixing many styles of music and trying out new sounds, so although this sounds different, it is just their latest venture. You can either jump on the train and take it for what it is, or you can wait for their next go around. Who knows what it will sound like next time?
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