Moby Wait For Me

[Mute; 2009]

Rating: 1.5/5

Styles: electronic, faux-ambient
Others: hotels, rental cars, airports

It might be a cheap shot to refer to Moby’s music as corny. The bald, aging scenester has been an easy mark since his Play-era licensing deals. Now that he’s been a critical punching bag for a whole decade, it needs to be noted that even stationary targets can wear a person down. But "corny," as an adjective used to describe Moby’s music, is more descriptive than it is pure pejorative. Like corn, his music is tough and indigestible; one could consume his entire oeuvre and shit it out whole again.

His new album, Wait For Me, is more subdued that his past few albums. Wait For Me is arguably his most downbeat album to date, but the show of melancholy he puts on here is entirely superficial and feels perpetually inauthentic. Which isn’t to say that the album isn’t well composed or arranged or that any single song is egregiously offensive; Wait For Me is a painless listen. Its painlessness, however, is its most telling flaw. For an album that aims so obviously for a specific mood, it leaves hardly the slightest impression on the listener. Real sadness is a difficult feeling to shake, and it’s hard to imagine that even the most fragile soul would be remotely shaken by Wait For Me.

There are a few isolated moments when Moby resists the car commercial milieu and stumbles into a genuinely affective melody. “Shot In The Back Of The Head,” the album’s introductory single, could be an instrumental interlude taken from another better record. As the album’s highlight, it feels marooned, a tiny island of authenticity in a vast, vapid ocean. “Mistake” is a generic enough piece of mope-rock, but — by sheer virtue of comparison — it rises above the other less memorable cuts.

For all this ragging on Moby (for corporate partnerships, his physical demeanor, the milquetoast nature of his music), it should be remembered that his only real meaningful failure is his willingness to repackage the same albums over and over again. When he followed up Play with 18, it was easy to excuse it as a creative slump, as a momentary blindness brought on by his flash-in-the-pan success. Remember that long before Play, he made “Go” and “God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters,” two seminal moments in electronic music’s slow climb to commercial viability. There was once reason to believe that Moby could move on from Play, that he could once again make something that felt new and worthwhile. But for the third time in one decade, he has put out a blatant variation on the same record. “Study War” is so derivative of Play that it is nigh impossible, four songs in, to not call bullshit on these shameless shenanigans. Using live vocalists in lieu of Alan Lomax samples is not a drastic enough change to alter the overall experience. Corn in, corn out.

It wouldn’t be fair to call Moby lazy; anyone who has released five albums within one decade is due a certain amount of credit. One must be specific in choosing one’s words, especially when it comes to derogation. Moby is creatively slack, seemingly bereft of inspiration. The critical response to Wait For Me has been tepid, but somewhat apologetic. It is as if some have, like cats with dead mice, lost interest in inert prey. But even though this point has been made before, it still bears repeating. It is Moby’s right (as well as his wont) to repurpose the same songs, the same structures over and over again. It is my own right, however, to choose to listen to something else entirely.

1. Division
2. Pale Horses
3. Shot In The Back Of The Head
4. Study War
5. Walk With Me
6. Stock Radio
7. Mistake
8. Scream Pilots
9. Jltf 1
10. Jltf
11. A Seated Night
12. Wait For Me
13. Hope Is Gone
14. Ghost Return
15. Slow Light
16. Isolate

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