[sic] Magazine

Moby – Wait For Me

A decade after the chronically over-rated, but actually quite good ‘Play’, Moby, who has been commercially treading water for no small time, furthered by the niche, one-dimensional, and somewhat boring ‘Last Night’ last year, branches out with his first album on his own label, the unanticipated ‘Wait For Me.’

And it is, amongst all other things, a massive evolutionary leap away from the tedious ‘Last Night’. Yes, it has many of the trademarks of previous Moby albums, the specific (and probably copyrighted) soft-violin-synth preset he’s made his default sound for the past decade and a half. It has the same, almost predictable sad minor chords and gentle leads, the understated, minimal vocals. But also, it is most definitely a Moby album in the classic vein of his previous ‘18’ and ‘Play’. Lyrics are spartan, the melodies evoke one very particular emotion: a regretful optimism. ‘Pale Horses’, lead single, is a low-key, low-tempo semi-hymn. It builds on an uncomplicated set of notes and lyrics that, through repetition, explore the notions and idea within the few words – ‘put me on the train, send me back’ through all the possible interpretations that those words could offer. There is a depth and complexity in the simple. ‘Study War’ offers a similar texture; a plea to the achievement of a state where war is a matter of historic importance only. ‘The Battle will be over’, is repeated, in Warhol-esque states, extending from a single-minded peace-hymn to an aspiration to some kind of spiritual harmony universe wide. All the colours of the Campbell Soup Can of sound in these rhythms.

Elsewhere, Moby creates almost – but not quite – identikit sonic palettes – aided and abetted by a small team of guest vocalists. I’ve always found his choice of vocalists, who have small and unextravagant ranges, who operate in a way that always serves the song and not the ego, taken from the corner, his social circle, or old vinyl records, to be both complementary and confusing. Each instrumental track is clearly the work of Moby, following his unique palette and style (even when they don’t, in the case of the brilliant ‘Animal Rights’), and yet, having the guest vocalists jars the listener out of the spell the music creates. There is no fluid individual identity or stamp on some of this record, just a selection of ever changing faces. It’s only by the seventh song – ‘Mistake’ – that Moby himself appears, with his broken, fragile vocal that to me, is far more interesting and has more strength than any anonymous warbling back up female: the ragged sound of the song – a man alone in his bedroom working out whatever demons he has – is far more interesting and intriguing than the anonymous electro gospel he sometimes produces. It’s the only time you hear Moby’s voice on the whole record, which quickly squashes to something a lot better than ‘Last Night’ but nowhere near as good as ‘Animal Rights’. Other highpoints include ‘JTLF’ (which echoes the under-rated ‘Hotel’) and ‘A Seated Night’: and with these, the record shimmers out into the distance, over the aural point of no return, mining a minor vein of general numbness and withdrawn exhaustion. ‘Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy’.

Overall, ‘Wait For Me’ sees Moby back to form – like it or not, that’s up to you – and again following his muse to pastures new and old. Music heals, music helps, and the spiritual fuel great music gives is worth more than any finance can provide.



For more from Mark please visit The Mark Reed website