Monday, June 6, 2011

The Myxem Staff Reviews "Circuital" by My Morning Jacket

Circuital was released May 31st on
ATO Records/EMI/Rough Trade
 Circuital is everything I've been wanting in a My Morning Jacket album. In my opinion, it's what their entire 13 year career has been building up to. Frontman Jim James' bizarre blend of psychedelia, folk, and jam-band showmanship is at its most streamlined, producing an album full of powerful grooves, catchy hooks, and razor-sharp lyricism. Borrowing elements from genres as diverse as 50's doo wop ("Slow Slow Tune", one of the album's many highlights) to their flagship quirky alt-country (which lays the groundwork for the album's title track) show a rapidly evolving musical style that still won't disappoint diehard fans. If you're hesitant to check out Circuital based on the off-putting cover art or the lukewarm first single "Holdin' on to Black Metal", rest assured: there's a lot to love here.
Rating: 9.3
Standout Tracks: "Slow Slow Tune", "Circuital"


Circuital is on paper an excellent My Morning Jacket album, it encompasses all of the peaks of My Morning Jacket's career and their many different sounds and influences while still leaving room for experimentation.  However, even though the album clocks in at around 40 minutes, it drags a little bit for me.  There's a lot of parts that feel like the melodies and hooks have been dragged on for length just so they could dabble around with more instrumentation, even though the instrumentation shines through it still dampens an otherwise enjoyable experience.  Another slight qualm is with lyricism, Jim James sang a lot of emotionally driven lyrics with the band's earlier albums and there's not much of it that sticks out amongst the crowd here.  Once more though, that doesn't mean that it's not absolute quality because My Morning Jacket on a bad day still beats the socks off of most other bands making music.  The album definitely has a lot of highlights though, I love the excellent use of brass in tracks like "First Light" and "Holdin' On To Black Metal" and even more I love the diversity in songs across the album, you can find pseudo psychedelic indie folk doo-wop easy listening and pretty much any genre you could pick out of a random hat because it feels like the band has really pulled from all corners in terms of influences here.  Fans of My Morning Jacket won't be disappointed by any means, but it's certainly not their best work.
Rating: 8.6
Standout Tracks:  "First Light" , "Wonderful (The Way I Feel")

I started hearing "Holdin' on to Black Metal" a few weeks back on the XM at work. I have to say, while I was stoked it was new My Morning Jacket, I wasn't horribly impressed by it as a My Morning Jacket song. My Morning Jacket is that type of band, capable of producing an excellent song that is slightly beneath their level. My Morning Jacket consistently manages to be one of the most innovative and eclectic American bands. By no means do I imply that they're working at some sub-par level or failing to be innovative when I say that this seems like they've found a sound that they want and an image they want to portray and are portraying it with all of the imagination and talent that goes into most My Morning Jacket releases.
Rating: 8.8
Standout Tracks: "Victory Dance," "The Day Is Coming"

Overall Rating: 8.9

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