CD Review of Evil Urges by My Morning Jacket
Recommended if you like
Band of Horses, Kings of Leon,
The Band
Label
ATO Records
My Morning Jacket:
Evil Urges
  • Dreamy, Psychedelic,
    Jammy, Progressive,
    funky Americana Rock
  • 2008
  • Buy the CD

Reviewed by Jim Washington

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I
t took longer than I’d like to admit to come up with a pithy description line for the new My Morning Jacket album. A few contenders:

  • The Allman Brothers crash a Sly and the Family Stone reunion.
  • Willie Nelson, the Grateful Dead and Prince get high and jam.
  • Pink Floyd and Neil Young practice in the Drive-By Truckers’ garage.

Yeah. I know. Fact is, Evil Urges is a tough album to describe. The band has obviously had enough of being lumped into the whole nouveau Southern rock/jam band thing, and have decided to take a bold step outside the lines.

Another comparison that comes to mind, which has nothing to do with sound, is the leap Radiohead took between The Bends and OK Computer. Evil Urges builds on the band’s previous album, Z, but takes off in surprising new directions. MMJ has produced an amazing piece of work that will leave some fans wondering what the hell happened, and others hailing it as a masterpiece. Already the album has prompted Rolling Stone to tap MMJ as a “breakthrough band” of the year, while at the same time the band has drawn online chatter along the lines of “who were those guys on ‘SNL’ with Shia LeBeouf? They may be the worst band ever.”

The single “Highly Suspicious” has rightly been at the center of the debate. The bizarro tune starts with an electro-punk beat and guitars before singer Jim James’s falsetto kicks in with these lines – “Wasting time home alone dropping your I’s / Peanut butter pudding surprise.” Between verses James gibbers and giggles while the rest of the band chants “highly suspicious, highly suspicious of you” in a voice somewhere between Sam the Eagle and an old West prospector.

Freaky? Absolutely. But the more you listen to it, the more it grows on you.

Thankfully, the whole album is not quite as extreme a stylistic experiment. It helps, in fact, that the songs which follow are “I’m Amazed,” a beautiful Americana anthem that would make Bruce Springsteen proud, and the simple love song “Thank You Too!”

The rest of the album careens between summery ‘60s pop (“Two Halves”), a crush song about hot girls in glasses (“Librarian”), straight-up rockers (“Aluminum Park”), and spacey prog jams (“Touch Me I’m Going to Scream Part 2.”). Put me in the masterpiece camp.

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