music journalist since 1992 | educator since 2004 | podcaster since 2020 | Iranian American since birth
Reviewed for Under The Radar Magazine:
Over the course of 11 albums, Moby has donned many different music personas, from techno button-pusher to punk rocker to sound designer and a whole host of others besides. On his latest, Innocents, Moby creates a body of work for adults. Teaming up with Mark “Spike” Stent (Madonna, Muse, Bjork), Moby allows an outside producer into the creative process for the first time. He also has an attention-grabbing list of collaborators: Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, Skylar Grey, Mark Lanegan, indie troubadour Damien Jurado, Cold Specks, and Inyang Bassey.
Sounding most similar to the album that put Moby on the global map, Play, Innocents doesn’t have any of the former’s individuality. Instead, it melts into a lump of hums and looped voices trying desperately to be given form by orchestral flourishes, case in point, “Saints.” Informed heavily by gospel spirituals, Moby filters these through spooky synthesizers (see: Cold Specks vocalized “Tell Me” and “The Perfect Life” featuring Coyne). Lanegan’s rumbling baritone does a lot in propelling “The Lonely Night” stopping it from stagnating entirely. In contrast, Jurado’s high-pitched wail repeating “wake up, wake up, wake up,” makes you want to slam the snooze so hard the clock breaks. Moby’s voice is devoid of personality, stretching out the already-too-long-at-nine-plus-minutes “The Dogs.”
Innocents has a lot of strong ingredients in place. The expectation is that it should be an album to be reckoned with. It’s not. For the most part, it drags. The personal impetus in each track is undeniable, it just doesn’t sustain itself past the first minute or so, with too much repetition of the same musical ideas. Moby clinging to his youth has a better sonic result than him trying to accept adulthood and representing that in his music.