My Morning Jacket : Evil Urges

<img src="" alt=" " />It tends to be a great thing when an established band releases an album that shows off unexpected skills.   ...
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges
8.9 ATO

Such is the case as My Morning Jacket drops a huge amount of variety onto their already distinct sound on their fifth studio album.  Evil Urges spreads rock energies over a dozen genres in fourteen tracks, including somewhat shocking ’70s grooves and a post-modern epic.

Given the strong following of their live performances, the band consciously pushed to translate that energy to their recording, and it resulted in their most spirited, but precise, album.  Countrified rock jams get a new level of sophistication and become offshoots like the swooning ballad, "Thank You Too", and the space-age technological, "Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 1".  

But the innovation really lies in wildly genre-bending tracks like "Highly Suspicious" and the title track.  The former mixes a gritty alt-rock sound with a sultry porn vibe while singer Jim James’ sultry falsetto duels with a throaty, authoritarian backing vocals.  The latter combines a hoedown with an ’80s arena spectacle and smooth, operatic theatrics.  They’re unique for their skillful combinations of difficult sounds, and the effortless execution.  

Evil Urges, overall, is a dense mix of genres so engaging that it’s easy to absorb the complexity.  The rock gospel "I’m Amazed" bolsters the album’s approachability while also helping establish the force of the music.  Heavy guitars and loud vocals drive an inspired sing-along in the party barn that their previous albums have erected.  "Aluminum Park" goes even faster, while "Two Halves" adds a brit-rock swagger.  The extended bounce of "Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2" has a mysterious edge but coasts along the cool, story-telling strain of James’ voice.   With an almost trademark extended length of eight minutes, it keeps the energy throughout, as the whole album does.

Large amounts of change can be difficult to handle in a lot of cases, but in My Morning Jacket’s, the band combines their new ideas with the fundamental rhythm and passion they’ve become known for.  Evil Urges explores a lot of new territory, but maintains the irrepressible animal instinct of their shows.  It comes out so sharp that you may want to handle with care.

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