Moby – Wait for Me

Thanks in no small part to the hugely successful albums Play (1999), 18 (2002), and Hotel (2005), Moby was, by 2009, firmly placed as one of the most respected musicians on the electronic music scene. Chart success may have been inconsistent by this stage (in the UK, Wait for Me was his least successful album for fifteen years, while in Belgium and the USA it actually charted higher than Play), but it is still an extremely enjoyable listen. The introductory track Division sets the mood for a very laid back and beautiful album.

The first proper track Pale Horses is, without any exaggeration, one of the best of Moby‘s entire career. It’s positively ethereal and even quite moving, with its huge pads and laid back drums. Then Shot in the Back of the Head is about as noisy as things get on here, with a curious backwards-sampled noise and a lot of very chilled out backing.

Study War is one of the occasional tracks that Moby still records to remind us of his Play days, with a sampled vocal, string sounds, piano, and a drifting drum pattern. It’s good, although perhaps not quite as good as anything on Play. There are some fun remixes of this floating around though, if you’re bored.

Walk with Me is next, fighting valiantly to be as good as Pale Horses, but ultimately failing somewhat. There’s then a little moment of filler before the brilliant Mistake. Moby sings, and he’s been criticised before for perhaps not being the best vocalist on the planet, which is not unfair, but he does have a very good line in songwriting.

A handful of pleasant, if less remarkable tracks follow in the form of Scream Pilots, Jttf-1, Jttf, and A Seated Night. What this album does seem to lack is any sort of obvious theme – we know Moby is great at writing beautiful melodies, but while the previous album Last Night (2008) had been very clearly a return to his dance days, Wait for Me is, at best, a return to the sound of Play and 18. You have to wonder whether it might have helped to have made a more concerted effort to release the next “ambient album” or something.

Even so, Wait for Me is a very good album – Jttf may have an obscure name, but it’s a sweet track, as is A Seated Night. But the real surprise at this point is the exceptional title track, which with its reversed background frippery, a rippling piano arpeggio and gentle vocal is extremely compelling.

As with Play, the later tracks become gradually more and more laid back as you work your way towards the end of the album, perhaps in the hope that you will listen to the ambient version of the album next, which can be found on the bonus disc. Hope is Gone is a sweet song, as are the instrumentals Ghost Return and Slow Light. What is a little disappointing, perhaps, is the final track Isolate, which neither leaves you wanting more, nor closes proceedings on a particularly memorable note.

Several decades into his career, Moby is entirely capable of releasing incredibly beautiful music, as several tracks on Wait for Me prove. The album as a whole may not be as solid as some of his earlier works, but it’s still worth a dip to find such treasures as Pale Horses and the title track Wait for Me.

The deluxe edition of Wait for Me, overflowing with bonus tracks and live recordings, is still available here.

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