Moby "Last Night" Review


“Disco Lies” reads a picture included as an insert with Moby’s latest album Last Night. The announcement is a bit misleading as many fans have felt quite the opposite since Moby’s departure from his role as an almost strictly club DJ following 1995′s Everything is Wrong — as for the albums that followed it almost seemed that disco wasn’t as dishonest as were Moby’s diversions. Now returning to the sound that first helped him find mainstream popularity, Last Night initially leads the listener towards the belief that Moby is either attempting to reclaim a musical presence he once had, or is attempting to blow off the criticism of his past few releases by dropping an album of oh-so-Moby songs. As it turns out however, Last Night is neither.

If only judging the album by one song, it might very well best be represented as a whole by “Ooh Yeah,” Last Night‘s opening club-hymn. The harmonizing between Erin Marszalek and Luci Butler over Moby’s synth, guitar, and flat-beat produce a culmination of what one would expect to hear from the man at this stage in his career. Once drifting through clubland only to find solace in the sounds of cringe-worthy industrial, the track settles Moby where he may be most comfortable, in an ambiguous genre heavily influenced by dance music. Introducing what is to come with the much of the album is the second track, “I Love to Move Here.” Sounding akin to a page out of Leftfield’s notebook circa 1995 it introduces a gentle female presence timed accordingly with with Grandmaster Caz’s intermittent toasting. And from there on out, one may very well think that Last Night could have been released in 1996… mostly.

“257 Zero” uses a staggered countdown-themed audio track looped over an elastic synthesizer break to fuel the similarities to a decade gone by. Following is “Everyday it’s 1989″ which could very well double as a slower version of 1995′s “Everytime You Touch Me,” and “Live For Tomorrow” which is a Play-influenced remedy to Everything is Wrong‘s “First Cool Hive.” The main difference in direction comes with the following track — the album’s lead single — “Alice.”

Though it becomes desensitized with increased listens “Alice” changes the pace of the record by drumming bass-heavy feedback into a weave between Moby’s best digital croon and the driving verses of S.O. Simple and Smokey from the Nigeria-based 419 Squad. The song isn’t as much of a stretch as it is an interesting mashup in styles, proving far stronger than anything hinted at with Moby’s 2004 Public Enemy collaboration. The balance between what listeners expect from Moby at this point in time and what is realized begins to then weave its way in and out of the remaining tracks. The low tempo “Hyenas” is seductively narrated by the French singer Nabila Benladghem, while Wendy Starland leads the club-ready “I’m in Love” and Shayna Steel does the same with “Disco Lies.”

Speaking of the album Moby details in Last Night‘s liner notes, “It’s also trying to condense an eight hour night into just over an hour of music. A night can ideally contain a multitude of experiences… to me this record sounds like a night out in New York with all the sex and the weirdness and the disorientation and the celebration and the compelling chaos.” And following a bit of silence on the album’s title track comes a breezy jazz-whispering finale. Therein is the realization that Last Night is a culmination of twenty-some years within the club scene with Moby now winding up with the urge to just live in the moment, even if that moment feels roughly a decade old at times.