Moby : 18

Bald New Yorker's bland successor to 'Play'. Advertisers, form an orderly queue...

Moby  : 18

4 / 10 Ooh lordy, trouble's so hard when you've just sold 10 million


copies of an album that was recorded for $250,000. When 'Play'


was released in 1999, it seemed like merely the latest experiment


in an eccentrically genre-hopping career which had seen Moby


take in rave (his first hit 'Go!'), Italian House (1994's


'Everytime You Touch Me'), film soundtracks (the compilation


'I Like To Score') and, er, thrash metal (1996's 'Animal Rights').


Nobody had reckoned on the seductive powers of sampled blues


vocals mixed with yearning chill-out music, particularly over


the advertising and TV soundtrack supremos who made 'Play'


truly ubiquitous.








If the last album hadn't blown up big-style, you can guarantee


that Moby would have continued on his wayward path and '18'


would have been very different. Instead, the temptation to make


another 'Play' clearly proved irresistible. The lead single,


the excellent, Bowie-ish wibbler 'We Are All Made Of Stars'


is a total red herring. The other 67 minutes and 17 tracks are


'Play' Redux; familiar-sounding "oh-lord-my-dog's-just-died"


samples over shopworn pianos and strings, straining to be epic


but lacking the crucial element of surprise that made 'Play'


sound so innovative.








More importantly, the songs themselves just aren't as good.


There's nothing to match the rumbustuous 'Honey', or the


widescreen sweep of 'Southside'; just increasingly pale


imitations of 'Natural Blues'. 'In This World' introduces


that "lordy" word again (this time it's "Lordy don't


leave me/All by myself"
); 'One Of These Mornings' warns


"…I'll be gone" over strings that aren't so much


soaring as on auto-pilot and 'Sunday (The Day Before My


Birthday)' asks "why did he leave?" (Because of the


constant moaning, no doubt.)








'18' gets better the further it strays from the 'Play'


blueprint. Moby's wispy vocal on 'Signs Of Love' lends


relief from the constant emoting, 'Extreme Ways' hints


at rock 'n' roll derring do over a decent disco bassline


and 'Another Woman' successfully updates Marshall


Jefferson's deep house classic 'Open Your Eyes'.


'Sleep Alone', however, is just morbid. Though its


lyrics ("At least we died together/Holding hands,


flying through the sky"
) were changed post-September


11, you have to wonder why Moby bothered when he's been


reciting them in every new interview. His new nemesis


Eminem may be offensive, but at least he's unashamedly


offensive.








And that's the whole problem with '18'; it feels compromised,


the work of a man who pulled his career from the jaws of death


and knows he's onto a good thing. Last week, Moby responded


to his Eminem diss by saying the rapper makes "music for


ten-year-olds"
. Too right - no self-respecting ten-year-old


would be caught dead listening to something as dull as '18'.


It's not so much 'Play' as played out.








Alex Needham

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