Moby, 18

Joe Levy

By Joe Levy

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Blips and blues make for a placid follow-up.

Moby always dreamed of being a star, but it was the small and heartbroken album he made at home for no one but himself, Play, that put him over the top. The contradiction trapped him. Cynics dubbed this follow-up Replay because it dared to repeat Play's gospel-and-blues over beats sound; after years of albums that refused to abide by genre rules, it was a disappointment for Moby to sound like himself. 18 relies on familiar house piano and rippling waves of synthesizer. It offers ecstasy and contemplation, but no revelations — you can't have the same epiphanies twice — and it frequently slips right into formula, as when "In This World" retreads the trouble-in-mind plaint of "Natural Blues," right down to the word "Lordy." Yet a little more than halfway through, 18 turns into an excellent chill-out album, provided mournful meditation is your idea of chilling out. "Sleep Alone" features backwards psychedelic keyboards and dry vocals from Moby; "At Least We Tried" broods on a simple melody until you say uncle; "Harbour" resurrects Sinead O'Connor for what sounds like a Sonic Youth ballad; "I'm Not Worried At All" is ambient with a full gospel choir. Small pleasures, granted, but that's what made Moby big in the first place.