1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 190

 

18, by Moby
Suggested by Liberty Dent

“Moby?!” said Sarah, as she clocked this mornings Randomiser. “Eww! He’s creepy.”

And with that, she sashayed away, which is quite an impressive feat as it’s tough to glide on a carpeted stair.

Moby’s a creep? I thought. Huh. I didn’t realise. I wonder why, exactly?

I fired up Google to check it out.

Back in 2019, Moby released Part 2 of his memoirs, “Then it Fell Apart.” In this book, he shared a few intimate details of his apparent relationship with a twenty-year-old Natalie Portman in 1999. Natalie Portman refuted this claim, saying that she was, in fact, eighteen, and it wasn’t, in fact, a relationship. She described it as less a relationship, more “a much older man being creepy with me.”

We live in strange times. The culture of celebrity offers up infinite grist to society’s millwheels, and literally everyone you respect will be outed as a sub-Savile wrongun sooner or later. Sarah was a huge fan of Michael Jackson. I was a paid-up member of Rolf’s Cartoon Club. Maybe Gary Glitter was the leader of your gang, or maybe you’ve a secret stash of Lostprophets posters under your bed. It’s telling that when someone asks “have you heard about Sean Connery?” you’re actually relieved to discover he’s only died.

Moby’s sixth studio album, the deliciously titled 18 (not 20, Mobes?), was released on the back of his commercial breakthrough album Play. It’s a wildly popular and successful release, topping the charts in twelve countries, including the UK. It spawned a number of singles, such as We Are All Made of Stars.

In fact, it’s this track that wins the accolade of being my standout song, with its hypnotic drum and string combination, augmented by a catchy guitar riff and understated vocals. Sure, it’s a touch repetitive, but it’s got a mellow hook and it gets your head nodding.

Sadly, the phrase “a touch repetitive” could be this album’s subtitle.

Mr Moby peddles a very particular brand of downtempo electronica on 18. The songs each take an idea, such a sample of a blues singer wailing “Lordy, don’t leave me” a la In this World, and then repeat that idea over and over, usually topping a laid0back string-and-drum combo. And sure, it’s pleasant enough, but it’s so static. A good song takes a central idea and kneads it into exciting shapes, teasing the aural Playdoh and creating art. Moby takes that initial Playdoh, blobs it in a corner and listlessly pokes it with a pencil.

But, early on at least, the sounds are quite nice. One of These Mornings swells, and Jam for the Ladies has a little more oomph, even if it does disappoint by not being about the Women’s Institute. By the end, however, the wheels completely fall off, with the final six tracks verging towards the phoned-in ambient plinkfest.

I give Creepy Moby’s 18 a middling 5/10. It’s somewhat soothing, but altogether forgettable. Like his relationship with Natalie Portman, the version in his head is probably much more impressive.

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