have you had enough excitement now?
a discussion of evil urges, the latest release from my morning jacket, would not be complete without at least a mention of what will likely end up the most polarizing track of 2008, "highly suspicious". for the record, i actually quite like the song, as there is just something deliciously overwrought and absurd in the way jim james channels his inner prince to ridicule the fear-mongering that seems all too common during the last eight years, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, right down to his maniacal fits of laughter. to focus so much attention and energy on this one track though is to miss what turns out to be another glittering effort from a band that has always been consistently sterling.
spread across a variety of backdrops (politics, sex, love, faith, age...), the album is thematically consistent in its exploration of the various "evils"--real or perceived--that seem to affect so many of the actions and emotions we take and feel in life. but for all of its thematic consistency, evil urges is stylistically all over the place (with "highly suspicious" being the most shocking example). it's the mark of a band eager to take chances and, thankfully, the results mark the talent level of the band on par with any other american rock band. the familiar southern and classic rock charms abound, but this time with dabbles of modern soul, classic r&b, alt-country, and straight-up pop. the musical shifts can be jarring at first listen, but the cohesiveness of the lyrical themes carry the album across many different streets until you've reached the other side and realize you're still in the same city. repeated listens bring it all together in a way that is weird, wonderful, and altogether my morning jacket. that, and jim james lets out screams and howls with such voracity and intensity that they could be second only to karen o. of the yeah yeah yeahs...
my morning jacket : "smokin from shootin"
from the lp evil urges (ato records, 2008)