Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Album Review: My Morning Jacket - Circuital

In the upcoming weeks I shall try to catch up on some of the more important releases prior to starting this blog in May.
Better late than never.

This is only the sixth studio outing for the band from Louisville, Kentucky. They have released many live LPs, rarities EPs and compilations along the way.

But my, has My Morning Jacket come a long way since their humble beginnings. They remain one of two heavier bands I like who don't sacrifice melody; the other being Queens of the Stone Age.

Circuital is a behemoth.

Victory Dance begins with a gong and vocal "clarion calls", as if some wakening call to action.
The lyrics sees a man at crossroads pondering over his lot.
The song is a slow-burner, but culminates in a maddening wig-out towards the end and is perhaps best experienced live at one of their gigs.

(There is a constant theme of reflection and self examination; of weighing things up and moving on -   biblical imagery abound throughout the album- My good work, someday come, meek inheriting the earth, the day is coming; without once coming over as preaching).

The title track, Circuital, has a cyclical guitar refrain which bobs and tiptoes until it takes off around the 2:15 mark. Some guitar solos, tinkling piano arpeggios making it the perfect driving song as it bops along.

Third track starts off distant and spacey, 'Ba-ba-ba-da-ba"s drawing closer.
The Day Is Coming is further rumination for one to take stock.
Yim Yames lends the track a soulful croon.

There is a real country heart in Yim's endearing vocals on Wonderful (The Way I Feel).
While mainly acoustic, it is embellished with synth strings.
An arrow straight to the heart.
The lyrics paint an escape to some magical nirvana.

Many a teenage boy's excuse can be summed up on Outta My System.
An indirect paean to testosterone.
On the other hand, the subject's also wiser now and is glad he got it all out of his system.

Holdin' on to Black Metal isn't metal at all; instead it is a soulful rock jam, resplendant horn stabs, with a gospellish shimmy-shake female backing choir.

First Light is a rollicking heavy-ish number. Here, "First Light" is loosely used as metaphors for birth, death, truth, strength, spiritual awakening and perhaps even in a re-incarnation cycle.

You Wanna Freak Out sways to a waltz-like rythm and sees the subject being calculative and "careful" and being invited to let loose and overcome her fears.

Slow Slow Tune appropriately continues on a plaintive tempo in this lovely story with the sentimental father recording this tune for his yet-to-be-born daughter and sadly having her outgrow it further down the line.

Moving Away is as much about moving on as it is about moving away.  Looking back, thankful with equal parts remorse and hope...

Mammoth.  9.1/10

The full album concert from npr:

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