Moby - Innocents (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
MOBY rolls back the years with his latest album, Innocents, recalling his brilliant best while also marking some of his own personal firsts in the process.
The LP marks the first time in his career that he has worked with an outside producer, friend Mark “Spike” Stent, whose résumé includes Madonna, U2, Muse, Björk and Massive Attack. While the list of eminent collaborators includes Wayne Coyne (The Flaming Lips), alt-rock legend Mark Lanegan, Cold Specks, Skylar Grey (best known for co-writing and performing on Eminem and Rihanna’s Love The Way You Lie), indie-folk singer Damien Jurado, and Inyang Bassey who was the vocalist on The Right Thing from Destroyed. He has named them the Innocents.
The result very cleverly recalls classic Play-era Moby (beautiful ambience married to stunning beat arrangements), while sounding equally of the moment. In that regard, he has chosen his collaborators well.
It’s maybe ironic then that the album opens in such stunning fashion with an instrumental that is pure Moby… a soaring introduction that thrives on its mix of ambience and back-beat, but which also drops a really, really insistent electronic hook. You’ll be instantly addicted and anticipating something special.
To be fair, the album as a whole can’t quite consistently maintain the levels of brilliance of that opener. But there are several moments along the way that do.
Primary among these, for instance, is his former single and Coyne collaboration The Perfect Life, which is a genuinely rousing uplifter of a track. High on melody and featuring a vocal duet between Moby and Coyne, as well as gospel-style backing, this is a joyous record that hits some thrilling highs (complete with a chorus that declares “a perfect life is all we need”, amen brother).
The Skylar Grey featuring The Last Day combines dreamy vocals with laidback electronics and a bluesy male vocal that is utterly addictive (the mix of styles, again, coming up trumps and delivering some nice contrasts), while Don’t Love Me drops one of the most strikingly robust piano arrangements on the LP and finds Inyang Bassey purring blues-soul lines like “I know you don’t love me but you don’t have to be so cruel”. It’s upbeat, edfy, cinematic and a riot.
There’s an equally thrilling instrumental on Saints, which again combines those ambient electronics with another outstanding (and kick-ass) beat arrangement, while just before that there’s a trace of African influence on the funky A Long Time (which again drops a little more edge and a little more menace).
Mark Lanegan manages to stamp his distinct vocals over the moody The Lonely Night, while Cold Specks contribute to another fine moment on the haunted, evocative Tell Me (arguably the most sparse track on the LP, yet strangely hypnotic).
The Dogs then rounds things off with a nine minute slice of indulgence… but it washes over you in satisfying fashion to complete one of Moby’s very best albums. And that’s no small compliment.
Download picks: Everything That Rises, The Perfect Life, The Last Day, Don’t Love Me, Saints, Tell Me, The Lonely Night
Watch the video for The Perfect Life