NBHAP Rating: 4,6/5
[one_half last=”yes”]MY MORNING JACKET
Label: ATO Records
01. Believe (Nobody Knows)
02. Compound Fracture
03. Like A River
04. In Its Infancy (The Waterfall)
05. Get The Point
06. Spring (Among the Living)
07. Thin Line
08. Big Decisions
09. Tropics (Erase Traces)
10. Only Memories Remain
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
No one really knows exactly when it happened but it must have been somewhen around the time of the departure of MY MORNING JACKET‘s founding members Johnny Quaid and Danny Cash in 2004 that the band’s process of becoming the possibly biggest small band in the world began. The astonishing thing to see is that singer Jim James and his fellow musicians didn’t aim for anything suitable to the masses at any point – instead they carried on the alternative country spirit they inherited in the first place and kept on growing along the barriers of classic rock, 70s prog and digestible psychedelic. Now, MY MORNING JACKET‘s seventh full length, The Waterfall has arrived and, though it’s a bold thing to say in a world where usually “their older stuff is the greatest”: If you wanto to start and comprehend this band in their whole spectrum you probably start best with this album.
There are many out there claiming that ‘change’ is essential to their art and that they never ever want to repeat themselves. The truth is of course, that a complete makeover of a once developed, distinct sound is neither necessiraly helpful nor a thing that fans usually appreciate. MY MORNING JACKET however have often been the band that neglected itself to a certain point with every release. From puristic folk, country and blues on 2003s It Still Moves to the hymnal pop breakthrough Z in 2005, to glamrock-escapades (Evil Urges) and lately a little progressive overload on 2011s Circuital: MY MORNING JACKET‘s hardly reducible to a certain image and sound. In fact, it’s always been kind of hard to really like these changelings because one couldn’t help but feel that Jim James and his band hadn’t even begun to like themselves either. The Waterfall now has the potential to change this perception. Mainly because it’s an exciting album in the best meaning of the word.
There’s too little space here to describe all that’s going on on The Waterfall. The changes in rhythm and dynamics alone would suffice for a proper musicological analysis. And, although the attitude of offering a whole spectrum of style and sound is not new to MY MORNING JACKET‘s output, they successfully bound it into a beautiful bouquet with this one. You could easily get lost in the details but you also might also simply enjoy Jim James crooning, whining, proclaiming his way through the depths of life, love, self-doubt and destiny. Starting with the hymnal opener Believe, growing into 80s pop in Compound Fractures and on into the psychedelic gospel of Like A River and In Its Infancy (The Waterfall), ending up somewhere within the epic Spring and the previously released, rather simple rock song Big Decisions: The Waterfall is so full of adventure, taking (and mastering) risks, richly textured and extremely well produced songs that it’s a really liberating experience to listen to it.
The mystery of MY MORNING JACKET might be solved: there is none. This is a bunch of passionate, highly crafted and yes, at times also slightly too ambitious musicians. But they’re willing to work hard on their tunes, melting their influences from 60s KING CRIMSON to contemporary soft rock and stripped-down Americana into glistening, odd but true songs. It helps of course to have a Jim James in front because his voice and presence alone justifies MY MORNING JACKET‘s high status in a live-business that’s ruled by one-man-shows. But the reputation of being an excellent live band is also complemented by a great record this time – The Waterfall presents the Kentucky based bunch at their best and this is really something to look up to. Despite their current status of quite unlikely rockstars: they’re up there for a reason.
Their seventh record presents the several shades of MY MORNING JACKET in a previously unachieved density.