Monday, April 14, 2008

Gonna Party Like It's 1989

Moby's new record, Last Night, is a concept album of sorts, attempting (in his words) to "take 25 years of going out in NYC and condensing it into a 65 minute record." It's also a throwback of sorts, to the days when you heard everything on a Moby record but the man's voice himself (although there may be a bit of him in the background vocals on a couple of tracks; I can't quite tell).

Of the record, Moby also says "very simply, to me this record sounds like a night out in New York, with all of the sex and the weirdness and the disorientation and the celebration and the compelling chaos." That sounds pretty high-falutin, but for the most part he's right. It would be easy to say that the album is nothing more than a collection of typical "Moby dance songs," but if you listen hard enough, you really can hear the rhythm of a single night, and one that didn't necessarily go well. There's desperation in a track like "everyday it's 1989," a song that is compulsively listenable but at the same time, sounds a little out of control - as if the protagonist is thinking to him/herself, "I'm out here to have a good time, and that's what I'm going to do, even if it kills me."

Up to about 2/3 of the way through, Last Night is relentlessly uptempo, and then comes a down-shift that's almost stunning - what was a dance album turns into something that sounds like a Brian Eno experiment in ambient music (I don't mean that as an insult, by the way). It's almost as if Moby is inviting the listener to create his/her own story out of the music. And given the material he's provided, the one I'd write might be a little scary, and a little sad.

Of course, I could making a lot more of this than is warranted. Even if that is the case, and it really is nothing more than a collection of "Moby dance songs," I'd argue that this is Moby's most interesting album since Play - but one that falls short of that great album's status. But still very worthwhile.

No comments: