July 17, 2008

My Morning Jacket Has Album of the Year


That's it; this is officially the strongest contender for album of the year so far. After breaking out with their 2005 album "Z," southern indie rock band My Morning Jacket has released the followup, "Evil Urges," and it is a masterpiece of epic proportions. Imagine a cross between Prince and the Allman Brothers with a little bit of Radiohead and Trent Reznor thrown in for good measure. This album is like nothing you've heard before, a glorious ride full of guitar blasts and beautifully sincere lyrics. My Morning Jacket has officially arrived.

The album starts out with the funky title track, a slinky come- on about letting go of your inhibitions. The song reminds me of Prince circa "Sign of the Times," in that it's rooted in funk territory but seems to have no boundaries. Then we go into "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 1," which essentially explores the same territory, that being the uneasiness of exploring the physical side of a relationship. These songs aren't just about sex though. They are examinations of the fear and trepidation with which we approach love. These are intriguing and often humorous songs and show a surprising amount of depth on the part of Tim James who is establishing himself as one of the best lyricists in rock.

From there, the thrill only gets better, with songs such as the beautiful ballad, "I'm Amazed" (which the band did a killer version of on "Saturday Night Live" recently) and the glorious "Thank You, Too," which is a bold declaration of love and respect. Later on, we get the yearning "Librarian." The song isn't about much more than a crush on a librarian but with the stunningly descriptive lyrics ("It's not like you're trying with a pencil in your hair/to defy the beauty the good Lord put in there") and the conviction with which James sings them make it really stand out. As impressive as the guitar playing and overall musicianship on this album, what really stands out here is the stark, confessional lyrics. You'd have to be made of stone to not have these songs mean something to you.

This is an absolutely brilliant album, and one that everyone who doubts that rock music is still alive needs to listen to. It is an original, beautiful work that people will be talking about decades from now. Run to the record store (or more likely, the computer) and buy this now!

John Hugar will attend the University at Buffalo in the fall.

Originally published by NeXt Correspondent.

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