I am a big fan, as I’m sure all the rest of you are, of the Southern-Country-Rock-Folk stylings of My Morning Jacket.
They are a wonderfully reliable band; rustic as toast and as American as swinging saloon doors or large helpings of pancake.
You know what you’ll get from Jim James and MMJ – dusty singalongs and big guitar freakouts. Reverb drenched vocals and aching croon. Long, meandering songs about dawn, fires and, er, dancefloors. They are one of the bands who made Americana fashionable again and hence paved the way for the likes of Band of Horses (yay!) and Fleet Foxes (meh!). And they also wrote this, probably the single greatest song to have on loud in the car whilst driving a bit fast:
And they have a new album out! Hurrah! More of the same! Brilliant. I’ll just dust off my chaps and be with you in a minute. In fact, whilst I’m out polishing my rhinestone (stop sniggering at the back, its a bugger to clean), why don’t you have a listen to this track from Evil Urges? I’ll be back with you in a minute to discuss the excellent banjo-picking, the howl-at-the-moon vocal and the dreamy, aching sense of reminiscence. I can’t wait…
Y’see, Evil Urges is a great great album. It really is. It’s brave, it’s stylistically varied. It’s emotional. It’s playful. But it is getting very, VERY mixed reviews and I think this track may be the biggest reason of all. Its a total and complete curveball.
I actually quite like the song, in context. I reckon the chorus is stonking but I can’t go for the lyrics in the verse and that weird giggling does my head in every time. Its such a shift that it really has taken reviewers and listeners by surprise.
Would pitchfork, DiS, the Guardian et al have given the album more praise without it? Or is that exactly the point? Its hard to say, but the album as a whole really does reward you, if you can get past the shock and give it some time.
So, can anyone else think of examples of artists making massive, surprising and not-always-effective handbrake turns like this?