Review: Moby — Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 5:00 PM
Review: Moby — Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt by Britton Rozzelle

★★★☆☆

Moby is back with one of his most strongly conceptual albums to date, nailing down a theme of dark, oppressive and impressively layered tracks over its almost hour-long runtime. “Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt,” is, like the Vonnegut work it takes its name from, beautiful in a way, but it’s not going to be for everyone.

“Mere Anarchy” sets the mood, present for the whole album. It’s dark and entrancing, moody and orchestral. It’s the most refined Moby has sounded in years and doesn’t overstay its welcome all the while still welcoming us into this brooding world that is laid out for us. “The Waste of Suns” likewise follows suit, this time introducing very early sounding 90s electronic house while whispy vocals croon over an imposing industrial soundscape.

“Like a Motherless Child,” and “The Last of the Goodbyes” are tonally similar, eschewing listeners into a darkwave rave, something that would absolutely fit on an older episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." The orchestral pieces of these songs are prominent, and overlap/support the regular trance elements employed by Moby.

“Everything was Beautiful” unfortunately loses the immediacy of its first couple of songs until a little more than halfway through. “The Tired and the Hurt” is mildly lackluster and the most notable weak point for the album. It’s a solid example of ambient electronic if nothing else, but it didn’t hold my attention as well as other tracks. “The Sorrow Tree” was almost the exact opposite - hooking me immediately with a light synth and paced bass that betrays the somber downtempo emotions of the rest of the album. Unfortunately, it gets repetitive, almost mundane, amongst the carefully orchestrated movements of the previous tracks.

The album picks up once more with “Falling Rain and Light” and “The Middle is Gone,” two songs that perfectly embody the seedy, shadow-drenched soundscape. The latter is the strongest track here, starring hushed, reserved vocals that convey an honest an open discussion of pain, love and loss on top of an entrancing electronic hook and piano accompaniment.

Moby himself narrated the opening of “This Wild Darkness,” a track that follows almost perfectly after “The Middle is Gone,” sounding like a response to the questions and dejected-nature of the latter’s lyrics. “Porcelain”-esque crescendos and RnB inspired ballad-ness push this track into noteworthiness that builds up to a natural conclusion for not only itself but the album as a whole.

With this in mind, “ A Dark Cloud is Coming” feels like an odd way to end the LP considering the finality of the previous track. It’s strong in its own rights though, and builds itself up effectively over the course of its 6-minute runtime, with sampled vocals crackling ever-so-slightly as a detached guitar hums next to a rising orchestral movement and beach-themed beats.

Altogether, “Everything was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt,” is yet another noteworthy production from Moby, and an impressive one for a 15th album. The creativity and style has seemingly not run dry for him yet, but this master mood-setter has absolutely had stronger releases.

Standout tracks: “The Waste of Suns,” “Falling Rain and Light,” “The Middle is Gone” 

Stream below: 

Britton Rozzelle can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com.

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