Finally released to a UK audience (Australia got first dibs back in late March) album number nine sees Moby returning to the upbeat groove he plundered so successfully on 1999’s ‘Play’ album. This one takes the theme of an all-night party in New York and allows us to join the conga line as he and his various guest MC’s pummel you with delightful disco beats and effervescent keyboard trills.
There’s no pause for breath, no subtle intro; you are going to be up dancing on the first beat as the repeating theme, the sweet soul singing and the steady funk beat of opener ‘Ooh Yeah’ hits. There’s a dark change in the middle which allows for, ah yes, there it is, the return of the dance theme. This is so formulaic, so precise, but oh-so-wonderful. Ah, Moby, with this delightful electro hedonism you are really spoiling us! It’s followed by the pulsing soft-sway of ‘I Love To Move in Here’ with snatches of crowd-cheer and topped off with the rap-back of MC Grandmaster Caz, co-writer of the classic ‘Rapper‘s Delight‘.
Much of the album is rooted in club nights past and should therefore appeal across the board. ‘Everyday It’s 1989’ is my cringe track as it takes me straight back to those uncomfortable teenage moments of the day. Raving like the screech of Black Box, it’s swimming in memories, smarting with sunshine, but repeated plays reveal a sickly sweetness that’s just a little too strong. For others it’ll be something else, no doubt. The hip-hop of 419 Squad’s guest vocals on ‘Alice’ is all lurking bass, grime and guts and is the pimp to the glamour whores of ‘Hyenas’ and ‘I’m In Love’ with their smoky, sensual vocals. They shimmy but they lack the razzmatazz that Moby usually nails on so effectively and will help most fall into their chill-out chairs a little too early.
‘Disco Lies’ will have you up again strutting your stuff, as our favourite forty-something self-confessed simpleton properly gets his groove back. ‘The Stars’ will keep you on your feet, a euphoric anthem of nostalgia with pistoning bass drum and hi-hat work, a mashed piano and just a pinch of latin thrown in for good measure. Then it all gets too much and we are forced to crash out again as ‘Degenerates’ drags the whole thing into a melancholic warping wash of industrial noise. If you want chill-out “choons” to properly enlighten then hook yourself into the shifting sands of ‘Sweet Apocalypse’ or the sultry jazz vocal of Kudu’s Sylvie on ‘Last Night’.
Despite the glorious highs this album won’t be quite the classic everyone was hoping for. It doesn’t define its respective genres but allows us a retrospective glance back and a wry smile. Perhaps a better way to put it is this; joining Moby on his clubbing tour of NYC has been fun, but it hasn’t changed my life or made me crave a repeat visit.