My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

My Morning Jacket
Evil Urges

News flash: My Morning Jacket’s Z was not their first album. Even though this is a common fact amongst aficionados of the band, after the album’s breakthrough success in 2005, it sure felt like it was their first album. The band acquired many new fans, held onto their devoted fanbase and received praise from critics and fans alike. Some people — like yours truly — even selected Z as their number one album of 2005.

Either way, the band had been around for many years before that and already had three stellar albums under their belt. They’re a unique bunch because they don’t offer the same album time and time again and the opening moments of Evil Urges’s title track undoubtedly illustrate that. The music is jangly, the bass is booming and extended and Jim James’ healthy falsetto is completely tantalizing.

The entire album can be lazily sectioned into three units: a dissimilar, creative beginning, a softer, soothing middle section and a moving, soaring ending. However, My Morning Jacket are unlike many other bands. Sure, that’s an easy and somewhat accurate description; however, the band’s musicianship requires much more careful listening.

The two-song suite of “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream” pt. 1 and pt. 2 are wholly absorbing affectations. The band doesn’t shy away from building amazing sonic landscapes. Pt. 1 is a poppy affair filled with towering guitars and melodic synths. Pt. 2 closes the album in a reflective and downright poignant manner. It’s supported by droning atmospheres that slowly creep in to a waterfall-like keyboard line that lightly thrusts and pounds away. The drums kick in and it ends up climaxing to an elevated, frolicking piece.

The band has scaled back the experimentation on a few songs to showcase their gorgeously layered music. “Thank You Too!” is an effortless homage to good friends and family. The music is tender with flourishing strings and a stacked melody for a chorus, the guitar solo that ensues is a sweet piece of heaven. The acoustic guitar driven “Librarian” is where the band fuses its trademark Southern feel with lush strings and plenty of reverb.

“Smokin from Shootin” is propelled by a repetitive keyboard that pushes the music to an exuberant piece of joy. James’ vocals are touching and memorable; the singer has the distinctive knack to drive music from good to absolutely amazing. This happens a lot on Evil Urges and is especially evident on “Highly Suspicious.” It’s a blatantly funky song that isn’t ashamed to feature the band’s playful side. James’ Cheshire cat snicker is hilarious and his otherworldly vocals reach octaves that few men can achieve. The band chants the chorus and the guitars and bass crunch with an intense ferocity, does he really say “Peanut butter pudding surprise”? Heck yeah, he does.

This is an excellent release from an already accomplished band. The band’s vast influences play a huge factor and they shine far and wide. They take you on a diverse journey covering many styles that include but are not limited to rock, pop, funk, Southern rock, hard rock and even some R&B and soul. We are in dire times as James sings on “I’m Amazed,” “I’m amazed at what the people are saying, I’m amazed by a divided nation.” Who knows, maybe this is the magnificent album that could begin to unite us but one thing is for sure, this band knows how to make damn fine music.