Evil Urges is a damn good album which manages to ruin itself with a horrible start. After a couple of listens to it I had pretty much delegated it to the bin as I was simply unable to get past the third song.

Fortunately, when I’m working I often put all my new albums on shuffle, and quite a few times I would find my self really getting into a song, switching over to iTunes to check out what it was, and seeing it was from this album. Even then it took quite a while for it to click that these same songs I was enjoying, and that crappy album I couldn’t get into were actually the same thing.

So I’ll start with the bad. The first and third song are like a dentist drilling in search of my mouth’s most painful spot. Someone must have lost a serious dare, because there’s just no call for the atrocities the singer is inflicting upon us with his horrible falsetto “Prince”-like attempt at singing. My suggestion: If you do get this album delete the songs “Evil Urges” and “Highly Suspicious” and save yourself a lot pain.

Whew. Now onto the good stuff. The rest of the album is a wonderful mix of Country flavoured rock and indie power ballads. Ever since the mid naughties indie has been migrating south, producing a host of great artists like Iron and Wine, Necko Case and Band of Horses. My Morning Jacket is a continuation of that process, and at the same time mixes it up with an almost Boston like area rock vibe. Not that an overarching style is an easy thing to pin down here. Even ignoring the Princeish songs, the album still has a load of variety, coming across at times more like a collection of singles than a single work. All be it a very good collection of singles.

We have songs that hammer along, slow ballads, poignant introspective ones, and songs that would fit perfectly in clichéd RomCom montages. In fact at times I find myself unconsciously trying to link these song together into an imagined film script. Their different themes perfectly capture the gamut of scenes you would find in a movie with a enough similarity between them that they could form a joint narrative.

Each song takes good care of it’s listeners with My Morning Jacket showing a deft touch at gradually building a song up to a peak, then lightly letting it settle back down. The songs have been tuned with just the right amount of emphasis on each instrument’s phrasing, providing a full sound via a weaving rhythm section and a variety of strong counter melodies which fill any empty space. Given all that, it manages to feel quite natural throughout; dodging the trap of excessive production.

In the end this isn’t an album I’d blithely recommend to people. There’s too much experimentation and stylist diversity for someone who isn’t really really into their indie rock. But personally, as much as I wouldn’t recommend this to a stranger I think it really is quite a neat album.

6.5/10

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