Intro: Moby isn’t just an arena. It’s also the assumed name of a skinny, four-eyed, 42-year-old, bald man who likes to write club-thumping electronic songs with titles like, “I Love to Move in Here.” Moby says his new disc, “Last Night,” is an attempt to condense an “eight hour night out in NYC” into 65 minutes.
Pros: So what’s it like to experience New York’s night life? If we can trust Moby, it involves lots of keyboards, synthesizers and electronic drums matched with soulful vocal performers. The tracks vary greatly but nearly all feature a strong hook and a highly danceable beat. The most pleasant surprise is how daringly unpretentious it all is.
Cons: Track titles like “Everyday it’s 1989” hint that Moby is looking backward instead of forward and everything else about the song harkens back to the cheesy repetition of two-decade-old dance music. It doesn’t help that Moby’s collaborators are surprisingly ineffective: the divas he recruits over-sing their parts while rap pioneer Grandmaster Caz’s contribution is embarrassingly stale.
Definitive Track: The one track in which Moby’s collaborators come through is also “Last Night’s” strongest. “Alice” never approaches the album-transcending brilliance of “Porcelain,” but its foreboding, synthesized bass line and brooding beats entice even as they defy traditional structure. Meanwhile, breathless, infectious verses from the British MC Aynzli demand your ear’s attention.
Conclusion: For the most part, “Last Night” is a collection of easily digested, hook-laden dance tunes and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it lacks the character, substance and originality we know Moby has the capacity for. Hopefully, a night out in New York City would be a bit more exciting than this.
Staff writer Nick Sheidies can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.