The producer Moby may be considered one of the forerunners in ambient electronic music, along with Brian Eno and The Orb. His most well known album, the musical behemoth known as Play, is one of Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” Moby tries very hard to emulate the masterwork of Play on his latest album Innocents, and it shows.
As one would expect from a Moby album, the euphoric pads and soaring vocals are used frequently and are well executed in tracks such as “Almost Home,” which features indie singer/songwriter Damien Jurado on vocals. Mr. Jurado’s vocals on the hook section of the song, “Wake up, wake up, wake up, we’re almost home,” are powerful in tone and feel poignant and effective. Most songs on Innocents are slow and deep, there are no uptempo techno numbers like Moby’s 1999 hit “Bodyrock” to be found here, and maybe that was done on purpose. Moby has always tried to stand out from the crowd, and with almost every EDM song on the top 200 having a beats per minute range from 128 to 140, Moby is trying to make a statement in terms of composition of electronic music with this album.
On tracks such as “The Perfect Life” featuring Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, Moby might be trying to express his viewpoint in terms of songwriting as well, as there are many references to how life should be lived, and what is the “perfect life.” The album culminates in a nine and a half minute wonder called “The Dogs,” which is the most well executed song on the album by far and maybe even more special because it features Moby himself on vocals.
Some of the tracks in the middle of the album could have definitely used some work though, such as “Saints,” a sleepy, “out-there” kind of tune that kind of seems to go nowhere. The next track “Tell Me” suffers from similar issues.
Yet, the ultimate question remains, “Is this as good as Play?” The answer to that is no. All musicians are evolving constantly, and maybe the fact that this album isn’t “an instant classic” is for the better.