Music Overload – New Moby & R.E.M. album releases today.

31Mar08

I’m experiencing de ja neu again today – that world weary feeling you get when you hear something new and it strikes you as so familiar that you believe you must have heard it all before.

The causes of the retro memory tugs are the new albums from Moby and R.E.M which were released today. But I’m not being fair to either act. Both albums show clear signs of progression, but they do contain reassuring quirks of familiarty.

From listening to both tonight, I’d suggest R.E.M. still show flashes of their old greatness. They are developing a loud and driving sound started with the ‘Monster’ (1994?) tour and then injected with steroids on a few of the new tracks. There certainly isn’t much of the mellow, second-guessing, introspection of ‘Up’ or ‘Reveal’ on show here. It’s enoyable and more stadium-filler fair than an intimate venue review.

Unusually for Mr Stipe, a few of the tracks have vocal performances where you can understand every word from one listening and the lyrics don’t appear vague or cryptic. Could this be a break with his well-worn wish to be enignmatic? Perhaps ‘Accelerate’, R.E.M.’s first album since 2004, is more an open and screaming flow of honest rock music than the beguiling and muffled album of random memories that we’ve come to expect?

As for Moby, it’s fair to say there are some great dance albums around at present, The Whip and Hot Chip having 2 worth checking out; but the lounge chic vibe is always sweetened by Moby’s finest tracks.

Needless to say the best Moby tracks on this album will be accompanying a slew of new TV ads over the next year. I wouldn’t say the album ‘Last Night’ was a retreading or better than the seminal ‘Play’, but it’s a stronger album than ‘Hotel’ or the much less than great ’18’. I’d guess Moby got some of his mojo back.

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