It’s tempting to wonder if Moby might have lost his way a little bit recently. The highlights on his last album Destroyed were relatively few and far between, and on Innocents they are pretty much non-existent. It’s almost upsetting that the same person who brought us the perfect Play could churn out something of this quality.
But Innocents starts off promisingly enough with the weird stylings of Everything That Rises, growing gradually into a traditional Moby piece, with enormous swelling strings. It’s nice – probably the best track on the album actually – but somewhat lacking in substance when compared to some of his earlier works.
Much of this album consists of downplayed collaborations, and so it is with the second track A Case for Shame, with Cold Specks on vocals. The instrumentation will again be very familiar to regular Moby listeners, but the lyrics and vocal delivery are very different, and that is definitely to its credit. It’s deep, wholesome, soulful, and unfortunately not very catchy or memorable at all.
Almost Home, the collaboration with Damien Jurado is more memorable, but unfortunately the mournful quality which I think they were trying to achieve comes across more as a bit of a listless drone. The instrumental Going Wrong is nice, but to me it sounds like the kind of thing that Moby might have hidden away on a bonus disc in earlier times, rather than giving it pride of place on the album.
The Perfect Life starts off with a promising piano chord, and even the gospel vocals don’t spoil it. Wayne Coyne may not be the best vocalist ever, but he does a decent job on this track, and it’s certainly the liveliest moment on this side of the album, making it something of a standout.
Things are definitely looking up by the middle of the album – Skylar Grey‘s performance on The Last Day is really rather good, and while the song may not entirely be exceptional, it is pretty good. And the same is true of Don’t Love Me with Inyang Bassey. There’s still something missing – somehow it still feels as though you aren’t listening to the best music ever recorded, but it’s a lot better than it was a few tracks earlier.
The largely instrumental A Long Time and Saints are good too. Not great, but definitely good. But by Tell Me, with vocals from Cold Specks again, your attention will likely be starting to drift, and The Lonely Night, with a slightly absurd vocal from Mark Lanegan does relatively little to help. Finally, the last ten minutes of this release are dedicated to a solo Moby song called The Dogs, and finally Innocents reaches its overdue but underplayed ending.
Ultimately the best tracks on this album are actually on the bonus disc Everyone is Gone, and the album, in trying to be all dark and meaningful, somehow falls rather flat. This is the kind of release where you could listen to it a dozen times and still have absolutely no memory of any of the individual songs. And that’s a real shame.
You can find Innocents at all major retailers, but the good tracks are all on the bonus disc of the deluxe edition, which at the time of writing is still available here.