One wonders if Moby were to set out to satirize himself- where exactly would he begin? A business-savvy, middle-aged electronic composer with a punk rock background steeped in rave culture to go with a faint Messiah complex, Moby has made millions crafting prepackaged inspirational moments on a synthesizer- then licensing every one of those moments to the highest commercial bidder until the music is so omnipresent that it literally becomes the soundtrack to our lives by default. This is exactly what happened with 1999’s Play (still far and away, his best effort)- a massive, worldwide perfect storm infiltrating every aspect of pop culture at the precise moment of high-speed web access that incidentally coincided with the advent of the Napster era. There was just no escaping from it for almost five years. That moment actually lasted until he released 18, the follow-up to Play which replaced the former’s inspiration and omnipresence with suffocation and redundancy (the truth be known, 18 was actually pretty decent- but it was definitely the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York of ambient electronica in terms of growth and development relative to it’s predecessor).
Regardless, Destroyed was inspired by a lengthy bout of insomnia and social anxiety experienced by Moby while on a recent tour. There are several tremendous moments where this lucid angst breaks through to the listener- most notably in the album’s first three and last four songs. However, much of Destroyed’s midsection- with the exception of “After” and “Victoria Lucas”- feels like a formulaic retread of prior Moby tracks (string swell-check, catchy chord change- check, repetitive audio samples- check). Furthermore, and this has become par for the course, the album stumbles whenever it implies Moby to lend his own vocals to the proceedings. His voice itself is not the issue (although he definitely has a substandard set of pipes). The problem lies in that Moby’s music demands an unbiased perspective and by shoehorning him in as the vocalist, the album momentarily breaks down the fourth wall enough to handcuff the entire song. For all of its moments of wondrous grace and sorrow, issues like these cause Destroyed to be uncharacteristically inconsistent. His previous album, Wait For Me, had similarly tragic undertones but was more adept at juggling all the different elements. Moby is both making strides here and treading water.
More than many of the other albums in his rapidly ballooning discography, Destroyed is wholly dependent on listener context. Moby nobly describes it as “a soundtrack for empty cities at 2am”. Not that I don’t appreciate the contextual heads-up, but is that really necessary with his music anymore? At this point, it may be more prudent to ask his ardent followers if the idea of Moby still works the same way in a Post-Post 9/11 world as it did eleven years ago. Does life itself influence Moby’s occasionally pretentious electronic backdrops? Or has this type of sound so seamlessly enveloped the listener that, in essence, Moby himself is facilitating those candid moments of introspection and perspective towards his own purpose. The world has had much to be introspective about over the last decade and it feels as if Moby has snuck in there to score many of them for us. This has happened enough times that it’s fair to believe he is actually arriving, inspirational electrosymphony in tow, before the moments themselves- moments, which incidentally, never occur. We only think they do because we have grown to associate Moby with the subtle transcendence of yesteryear. This collective disconnect between ideals and reality would suggest that Moby has become almost the auditory equivalent of Facebook (or MySpace when taken into account his recent trajectory).
I’m giving far too much credit to both the artist and the fan base here. But if Moby has succeeded in pulling a bait and switch on the consciousness of social media, his next album needs to be fresher and more consistent than Destroyed. He is too shrewd of a businessman to not know any better.
STANDOUT TRACKS INCLUDE:
The Broken Places, Be The One, Sevastopol, Victoria Lucas, After, Stella Maris, The Violent Bear It Aways
Destroyed by thelittleidiot