Friday, 10 June 2011

My Morning Jacket; Circuital - How To Channel Your Inner Jam


"I can see potential/Speaking through you/Speaking to you/ From all of heaven's possibility," My Morning Jacket's Jim James sings at the opening of his band's sixth album. He sounds like a hippie shaman, but the track is more Radiohead than the Doors: a sleek, low-end bass whir and tensely driving cymbal hits melt into hypnotic waves of ambient sound and ghostly backing vocals; the song builds ominously, then speeds headlong until climaxing in chaos and distortion. It's a trippy vision of heaven, and a song that sums up what MMJ do best: deliver new-fangled packages for old-fangled transcendence.

Over the past decade, the Kentucky quintet have been on an ambitious, boundary-melting mission. The last two discs – 2005's Z and 2008's Evil Urges – ping-ponged between misty-mountain guitar explorations and Seventies funk fantasias, kinky reggae and unwinking metal, while still delivering Southern-tinged jams that felt as comfy as a crusty college futon. Recorded in a Louisville church gymnasium, Circuital is just as adventurous, yet more organic and focused; when James sings, "Play it smart, soul intact/How you react is what you'll get back," against lovely circular guitar shimmer on "You Wanna Freak Out," he's like the beard-rock version of Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights, showing the boys how to relax and channel their inner jam.

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