And so, to the second of my eagerly anticipated birthday item reviews: Moby: 18. The similarities between 18 and Play are immediately obvious but that’s no bad thing. More gospel samples, more overblown strings and more of Moby’s peculiar singing. He hasn’t got the best of voices but he manages quite well on the debut single “We Are All Made Of Stars” – a song that on the first few listens I wasn’t too keen on but now has grown on me. Next track “In This World” is the next single which has quite a nice video featuring strange little aliens holding boards with ‘hello’ written on them. This is the most ‘Play’ type track (very, ‘Why does my heart feel so bad’). If you listen carefully you can hear Moby intentionally playing the wrong piano notes in the background. It’s quite disconcerting but makes quite a safe track a little more interesting.
“In My Heart” has a nice piano intro which is like Coldplay’s “Clocks” on acid. Tonnes of keyboards on this one and it’s quite an uplifting tune to boot. It’s definitely one of my faves. Up next is “Great Escape” – a miserable dirge featuring retro Casio keyboard sounds backing up a sparse vocal. This track lasts a mere 2:08 and then we’re onto “Signs of Love” which I absolutely love. Probably my favourite Moby song ever. This is strange seeing as Moby himself sings on this one. A great tune to drive to late at night. Prompts deep thought. “One of these mornings” is a sad song that samples a female gospel singer singing “One of these mornings, you will look for me and I’ll be gone”. It wrenches at the heart and is quite beautiful.
“Another Woman” is a bit more funky and wouldn’t be out of place on Dave Pierce’s evening show on Radio 1. Nice funky bass line and not overlaid with the standard Moby strings. If I was a DJ (I’m not) I would mix it into the Stone Roses classic “Fools Gold” – It’s got that kind of beat – very dancey. “Fireworks” is a bit of a nothing ambient track that Moby can do with his eyes shut. “Extreme Ways” is a candidate for the next single. A more up-tempo track featuring a funky jazz organ and, yes, Moby Strings. Moby sings on this one again. He does a good job.
“Jam for the ladies” has a bass line that reminds me of the more funky “Five” numbers. A definite break dancing number and wholly enjoyable. “Sunday (the day before my birthday)” is a nice enough track with a pretty female vocal. The most interesting thing about this standard Moby track is the cello used in the dying minutes. Title track “18” is the twelfth track (figure that one out?) and is a strings heavy instrumental that lasts for four and a half minutes and wouldn’t be a miss on those ‘relax your mind’ CDs that reflexologists buy. Remember William Orbit’s “Adagio for Strings”? This is its long lost brother. “Sleep Alone” is new territory and very downbeat film noir music yet still manages to remind me of one of the less musical tracks on Play. “At least we tried” is another of the standout tracks. Beautiful vocal and simplistic in arrangement.
“Harbour” irritated me at first. It features those harsh Irish tones of Sinead O’Connor. Repeated listens prove the track to be quite a grower. The last few minutes really build the track to a great climax. “Look back in” is the album’s low point. Most unmemorable. “Rafters” is another up-tempo number that’s very 1994 sounding. You’ll know what I mean.. Remember D-Ream (Things can only get better)? Final track “I’m not worried at all” just fizzles the album out.
Overall it’s a damn fine slab of plastic. Many thanks to Harry Deans who bought it for me. (This review was written with haste at work, I may edit it and rework it later.. Or I might not.)