My Morning Jacket – Circuital

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

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Though Evil Urges certainly had its champions, there’s no question that it’s the black sheep of My Morning Jacket’s catalogue. I can’t claim to have listened to it enough to remember why, but here’s what I do remember about it: “Highly Suspicious,” which should explain why I’ve rarely returned to it.  There’s no hard and fast rule for what makes a successful album, but surely we can all agree that the most memorable song on your album shouldn’t also be the most irritating. But that seems a little too simplistic to account for Evil Urges divisive nature, and whatever lesson there was to learn from the album, My Morning Jacket appears to have learned it on Circuital

To be clear, the album is no front-to-back masterpiece — but the band has remembered how to sell even their slighter tracks with a combination of conviction and a good sense of space. One of the reasons My Morning Jacket is a guaranteed presence at most major festivals is because of the band’s ability to balance their bombastic, night-sky-filling choruses with patient, nearly-empty passages of ghostly instrumentation. That skill serves them well on Circuital, particularly on the title track and its follow-up, “The Day is Coming.”

As far as those lesser tracks are concerned, there’s not really much of a song underneath the cheeky confessionals of “Outta My System,” nor the muscular guitars of “First Light,” but My Morning Jacket plays forcefully and passionately enough to more than compensate for either song’s deficiencies. The band is in classic rock mode here, cross-referencing favorite arena-rock moves with unexpected, yet totally appropriate, detours into spooky funk (“Holdin’ on to Black Metal”) and the occasional airy waltz (“You Wanna Freak Out”).

Most of the time, that reverence works well (“Circuital,” in particular, should make any fan of The Who smile). Every once in a while, My Morning Jacket accidentally wanders into Stillwater territory (opener “Victory Dance”), where the sound becomes almost a parody of the bands they admire. But this a band that always balances obvious populism with choices that are going to cock a few eyebrows. Circuital is an album about growth and accepting your nature, and a few awkward choices here and there are, well, natural. It certainly doesn’t hinder the listener’s ability to admire and enjoy how much this band has matured.

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Comments

  1. Matt Conner Matt Conner says:

    Nice review and appreciate the take. I wasn’t as excited about it but definitely a good argument here.

  2. Scott Elingburg says:

    I’m sure there’s a camp of people who enjoy “Highly Suspicious.” I might be one of them.

  3. Daniel Kirschenbaum Daniel Kirschenbaum says:

    Matt- it took me a few listens, but I probably wouldn’t have given it a couple of extra listens were I not reviewing it.

    Scott- Anything’s possible, but man, does that song boil my potatoes.

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