The Lowdown: After spending the last two years transforming his nightmare visions of our modern age and his internal agonies into razor-wire post-punk, Moby is back in the business of electronic pop music. And what has poured out of him on his 15th studio album are equally dark visions rendered with music and performances that feel softer. Like the warm cushion of a goose down pillow as it settles on your face to suffocate you.
The Good: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt features some of Moby’s most impassioned performances to date. The surface of his speak-singing throughout appears flat and tranquil, but upon closer inspection, it’s hard to ignore the shakiness in his delivery, the unnerving close-mic’ed smack of his performances revealing the real fears and despair just below. Like so many of us, he’s scared out of his wits about the state of things, and it’s weighing hard on his soul. Matching that with lush, down-tempo production that incorporates a gospel choir and vocal turns by Raquel Rodriguez is genius-level thinking.
The Bad: For all the moments of beauty found within each one of the dozen songs on this album, it’s hard to absorb all these dour messages and foreboding visions without some hope to balance it all out. Even when Moby does feel like he’s trying to let a little sun in the room, as with the Born Again sentiments found in the moving closer, “A Dark Cloud Is Coming”, it doesn’t feel very convincing.
The Verdict: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt is a bitter pill to swallow, but Moby deserves respect for not shying away from the conflicting emotions that he’s been feeling inside ever since the events of November 2016. That he’s turning them into a rapturous piece of art like this instead of venting his spleen in the echo chamber of social media is worthy of praise and attention. Just do yourself the favor of taking this album in moderation. A little goes a long way.
Essential Tracks: “A Dark Cloud Is Coming”, “Welcome To Hard Times”, and “The Last of Goodbyes”