Release Date: Jun 10, 2008
Record label: Ato Records/Red
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
"Evil Urges," "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 1," and "Highly Suspicious" comprise the opening lineup, which jumpstarts the album with 13 minutes of sexy, tripped-out electro-funk. James slips into a falsetto during the title track, his voice clear and reverb-free as he coos in a bedroom whisper. "Touch Me" bubbles with interstellar keyboard effects and harmonies -- for the stoner contingent of MMJ's audience, this is the logical place to fire up the bong -- while "Highly Suspicious" delivers the album's biggest shocker, mixing James' best Prince impression with bizarre lyrics ("Tapping your lines, peanut butter pudding surprise!") and bursts of laugher.
Review Summary: Southern rock, indie, and psychedelic synergies have been realized.My Morning Jacket - Evil UrgesI first discovered My Morning Jacket while at a friend's place. He had on some bootlegged B-side as background music for a small gathering and I liked it enough that I asked who they were. I picked up It Still Moves and Z and was happy. About a year later, my school's campus entertainment group allowed students to vote for bands for our Spring Fling concert.
My Morning Jacket can no longer be considered a ramblin’ bunch of Kentucky whiskey boys. Evil Urges, their fifth studio jam, sounds downright urban at times, and shape-shifting singer Jim James seems influenced more by Prince than by Harvest-era Neil Young. Although James hatched these songs in a Virginia cabin, the band, along with producer Joe Chiccarelli, came together for sessions in a swank mid-Manhattan studio – a far cry from the days James would track his vocals in a grain silo.
Ditching the reverb-soaked, elliptically inclined tunes of yore for a more adult-contemporary, direct approach to songwriting, singer/guitarist Jim James seems to have made an album that caters more to personal preferences than the exploratory songwriting we have come to expect from the group. “Sec Walking” could easily be a Sweet Baby James-era James Taylor track, all the while offering very little lyrically with its banally sentimental refrain of “Brother, do you care?” And although a healthy departure in sound generally lends itself to the revitalization of a band, the departures found in Evil Urges feel more like intentional copycat throwbacks, sans the eyewinks and irony. Furthering the maddeningly stale dose of “Haven’t we heard this before?” is “Highly Suspicious,” where James dons a grating falsetto against Robert Palmer-reminiscent guitars and a very '80s all-male chant of the song’s title.
At last year's Austin City Limits Music Festival, My Morning Jacket bent bizarre and epic, frontman Jim James' wigged theatrics almost mocking his harrowing Rolling Thunder white-faced cover of Dylan's "Goin' to Acapulco" for 2007 film I'm Not There. The contrast was appropriate given James' equally iconic and elusive emergence as Southern rock savior obscured behind a wash of reverb and a wreath of hair. Yet, if 2005's Z culminated the Louisville, Ky., quintet's early Crazy Horse adoration into their own expansive, sonically rich language, the group's polarizing fifth LP attempts to rewrite the MMJ alphabet altogether.
“I just want it to be weird,” Jim James told MAGNET last summer, when his still-gestating Evil Urges barely registered as a nefarious inclination. By that standard alone, My Morning Jacket’s fifth LP has one outright success: “Weird” is definitely the word to describe the industrial-funk “Highly Suspicious,” the album’s third song and even-money lightning rod. Any MMJ fans wondering when James would give in and embrace his inner Divine will thrill at the track’s over-the-top nitrous-oxide giggles and breathy, orgasmic squeals; for the Kentucky band’s legions of Bonnaroo-lording, Skynyrd-loving beardo diehards, it may be akin to FBI lifers finding out J.
R&B grooves, Prince-worthy vocal seduction, robotic verses cribbed from an old house-music mix — these strange noises and more can be heard within the first three tracks of Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket‘s fifth offering. ”It ain’t evil if it ain’t hurting anybody,” sings frontman-songwriter Jim James on the title track — and over the course of 13 lyrical landscapes, he crushes on librarians, begs to be touched, then bemoans the harm he’s done. The cumulative result is an exhilarating, bone-deep experience — a true album, built for sustained listening.