Moby’s commercial peak is probably long behind him, on the island that Play built. But recent efforts show that that could be for the best. Lately, he seems to be making albums for his own pleasure, turning out some of the more interesting and inspiring fare — although less radio-friendly — of his career. After the failed disco pastiche of Last Night, he retreated to make the highly personal Wait For Me and began to wring some legitimate soul out of his electronics stable.
Stylistically, Destroyed falls somewhere in between Wait For Me and 18. It has a subdued melancholy throughout, neatly balanced by some mid-tempo selections. Moby’s own description of it as “an album that makes the most sense late at night in an empty city when everyone else has gone to sleep” is fairly appropriate, with the music sounding almost like it’s a lullaby for Detroit. There is a soundtrack quality to the music, aided by the fact that Moby’s own vocals generally recede to the background, with the majority of tracks either being instrumental or featuring a guest female vocal.
Other than the vocoder refrain of “Be The One,” it isn’t until track four that we come across a lead vocal, with the lovely “The Low Hum.” The soundtrack feel begins in earnest, as somewhat gloomy but longing electronica becomes the rule. The more acoustic foundation of Wait For Me gets replaced, perhaps appropriately, by the more mechanical soul of machines buoying vocals, which are realized beautifully with “Rockets.” And even when those vocals are present, sometimes they’re little more than a textural element, as with “Victoria Lucas.”
A gospel vibe interjects into both “Lie Down In The Grass” and “The Right Thing,” offering a nice stylistic balance to surrounding tracks. But throughout Moby is still comfortably within the vein of some of his past, slower material. Echoes of 18 come through strong on “Victoria Lucas,” and “Stella Maris” hearkens back to the ambient material from Voodoo Child’s The End of Everything. In fact, the final four tracks are largely instrumental numbers with the intent of peaking light through this album’s otherwise cloudy landscape.
Destroyed doesn’t immediately grab for attention. It’s pleasant, but settles neatly into the background and doesn’t really draw much notice to itself. But after a couple of listens, it burrows its way into your subconscious and becomes an infectious rest, trading hooks and refrains for longer-breathed lines. Other than lead single “The Day,” there’s not much here to light up the airwaves. And that can serve as a refreshing change, as there’s a time and a mood (and a need) for more measured, subdued listening. It’s a sad and beautiful album that is more comfortable as an accompaniment than it is under the spotlight.
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