I can’t believe it leaked. Actually, I can. But wow, a whole month and half early? I love this band, and it is for this reason that I couldn’t resist getting ahold of and listening to their new work. For anyone out there who has a leaked version of this album, I implore you to buy it legitimately once it is released, as I know I will. My Morning Jacket is worth your money. Especially this one.
To start off, I think this album is great. Upon my first listen, I was struck with the same feeling that I had when I first listened to the new Radiohead and Wilco albums. This feeling meant that I needed to listen to the album at least 6 more times, and then form my opinions. Similar to the new Wilco album, I feel like this work shows us the more contemplative, mature, composition-oriented side of My Morning Jacket. It’s definitely a big step forward for the band. They certainly took advantage of the studio on this one more than any other album, utilizing it as a tool to bring as much as possible out of the songs. I was particularly struck by the diversity… the differences between the general sound of each track is staggering. So I’ll just cut to the chase, heres a song-by-song review:
1) Evil Urges: A lot like some of the older work, with a phased out guitar, and that familiar “two-tone” bass line. Jim James sings this one almost entirely in that high falsetto he is so famous for. A little over halfway through you will find a catchy-as-hell harmonized guitar riff.
2) Touch Me I’m Going to Scream: This could be a Flaming Lips song. The way they pan the sound, the multiple vocal tracks, and the general ambiance all add to this Lips-ey feeling. The bit that saves it from being a Flaming Lips song outright is the drum and bass which is very MMJ and reminds me a lot of “It Beats For You.” One of my favorites.
3) Highly Suspicious: This is a weird one… I find it gets stuck in my head really easily, but I’m not sure if I actually like it or not. Seriously falsetto, seriously strange, but definitely awesome. Great Jack White-esque guitar solo. Theres some evil snickering too.
4 I’m Amazed: Good old-fashioned Southern Rock and Roll. Full harmonic vocals, catchy guitar and piano riffs, epic sound. Would suit a massive stadium well.
5) Thank You Too: A lot of space in this one… a light-hearted track with nice strings, a soft rock feel, and a touch of soul. Reminds me a bit of some sort of 80s love song. Jim James is nice to listen to here.
6) Sec Walkin: This one screams James Taylor… you’ll see what I mean.
7) Two Halves: Southern rock meets 90s rock, full sound, layered harmonic vocals, pretty straightforward.
8 Librarian: My favorite one lyrically, this song tells the quintessential in-love-with-the-librarian story. Slide guitar, strings, and tambourine add to the full, mellow, yearning feel of this song. “Sweetest little bookworm, Hidden underneath, Is the sexiest librarian, Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me.”
9) Look At You: More slide guitar, wide open feel, classic Jim James singing. One of the quieter tracks, it’s got a lot of feelings in it.
10) Aluminum Park: Creates a stark contrast with the song before it by opening with a raw guitar riff, and then moving into a catchy southern rock fest complete with good chorus, reverb-heavy vocals, and some serious shred-action. This one is seriously high energy.
11) Remnants: Another rocking, riff-based tune, not one of my favorites, but some great guitar work. One of the loudest tracks.
12) Smokin’ From Shootin’: Focuses on the lyrics that Jim James croons, practically isolated, on top of the music. Gets nice and epic in the last minute and a half, followed by a serious fade-out into the next track.
13) Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2: This one is a masterpiece. Maybe its because I have heard this track the most, but I seriously dig it. From beginning to end, it feels like a journey through a distant unknown land. They tease us for a minute and a half before breaking into the disco beat that I am addicted to. I could listen to that beat all day. This song fills me with all sorts of sound, and leaves me satisfied. Perfect choice for the last track. Bravo, My Morning Jacket, Bravo!
All in all, I feel like this album will be received by fans with mixed results. Those looking for the My Morning Jacket that rocks all the time (in other words the MMJ that we’re all used to) may be disappointed with the more adult feel of this album. I, however, find the album refreshing and engaging, and I know that it will reveal more and more of its secrets to me with each listen. I give it an A-.