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Moby : 18

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

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'

w
as 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
4 / 10

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