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4.3 out of 5 stars18
4.3 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2011
My Morning Jacket left many fans baffled after the release of 'Evil Urges' in 2008, an album that can only be described as unclassifiable, for all the wrong reasons. 'Circuital' is the follow up, and thankfully; it erases the memory of their last effort, with My Morning Jacket's sound returning to their own version of normality.

The album opens up with 'Victory Dance' and 'Circuital', tracks that set the overall tone of the album: at times subtle and quiet, but then loud and truly spectacular. 'Wonderful (The Way I Feel)' represents the relaxed Kentucky country twang they sometimes incorporate into their music. 'Holdin' On To Black Metal' is the extrovert of the album: Jim James takes his voice to the level of pitch that even those in opera would be taken back by.

Whereas the album opens with two up-tempo songs, it closes with two slow songs: the aptly named 'Slow Slow Song' and 'Movin' Away'. The main thing that holds this album back however is that the eight songs that follow 'Victory Dance' and 'Circuital', while very impressive, rarely match the grandeur and and spectacle of the opening tracks.

However, 'Circuital' is still a great album that proves to everyone; nay-sayers and fans alike, that My Morning Jacket have not lost their edge, and they're truly back on track.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
After listening to the three preview songs released by Tennessee reverb rockers on various blogs over the past weeks expectations have been raised of the prospect of a scintillating new album by My Morning Jacket. Jim James and Co have always been a fascinating project and previous albums such as the monumental "It still moves" and the innovative "Z" saw them being described as the American equivalent to Radiohead. But whereas Thom Yorke's crew headed off into the room marked "Experimental" following the huge success of "OK Computer", alternatively MMJ decided to head somewhere nearer the mainstream which led to the spectacle of a bunch of hairy Southern rockers doing lacklustre Prince imitations ("Highly suspicious") and faithful live covers of "Careless Whispers". It was all going to end in tears and with the release of 2008s generally dire "Evil Urges" it allowed cynics the chance to utter a loud "I told you so" despite the fact that it sold rather well.

Lets deal with the three aforementioned songs first. The excellent opener "Victory Dance" actually has echoes of some of the war themes in P J Harvey's recent "Let England Shake" and is a broody powerful song that starts with a military coda and is driven by a sinister bass to an explosive conclusion. It is followed by the epic title track underpinned by a fantastic Jim James vocal namely the seven minute plus "Circuital" which will has already brought the house down at their explosive live concerts (check out all the new songs from a live concert performed at the Louisville Palace on the "Troubled Souls Unite" blog). It is classic MMJ with a slightly "Creep" like opening vibe but which builds into a huge rocking beast and would have sat very happily on "Z". Finally the funky "Holdin on to Black Metal" starts with an exuberant chorus from the Black Metal Girls made up of female singers from their home town where at last a homage to Prince gets it about right. Equally its great to see a rock band able to play live and hold their own with funky singers such as Erykah Badu.

The slight problem is that nothing which follows is quite as good as the above, not that that "Circuital" is without its merits. For instance the concluding piano ballad "Movin Away" is a classy Jim James alt country heartbreaker which he has specialized in since the bands great "At dawn" album. "First light" is a nice rocker although let down by some terrible lyrics and "You wanna freak out" is a potential pop anthem. The self descriptive "Slow Slow tune" however barely gets out of the starting blocks while "The day is coming" becomes quite repetitive on repeated listens. Equally the sequencing of the album sometimes feels out of kilter with the lovely ballad "Wonderful (the way I feel)" sandwiched between two of the weakest songs on the album the previously mentioned "Day is coming" and rather silly sub Beach Boys of "Outta my system" on which the jury is still out.

The good news overall is that this album is much closer to "Z" than its "evil" predecessor and on the evidence of live performances takes on an additional dimension in an already blistering concert act where My Morning Jacket find their true expression. "Circuital" sees this band take a step back and reassess from a rather large misstep and in broad terms it's a much happier outcome. Get "Circuital" you will enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I got this on pre order and have been listening to it for a while now. I will admit up front I consider MMJ and especially Jim James to be pure genius. However, this takes some time to work its way into your heart, and at first I was a bit disappointed. But then I am like that with a lot of music and often find that the most accessible is often the most disposable, with the shortest shelf life.

Opener `Victory Dance' is a slow brooding number that is an eerie choice for an introduction, but that leads to title track `Circuital', which I just love, it is over seven minutes but is a return to prior form after the experimental exuberance of `Evil Urges'. For the record I adore Evil Urges and think it is one of those records that will continue to surprise. Circuital is just joyous, with great rythm, driving rhythmic guitar and ends all too soon.

There are more sombre numbers such as `Slow Tune', and `Wonderful (the way I feel)', which is as it professes - just wonderful. Then there is a pure instant classic in `Holding on to Black Metal', which sounds like it could be a theme tune to a Bond Movie and that is just fine by me.

They are a force to be reckoned with live and I am looking forward to seeing them later this year. This is a real grower and the inner sleeve has a copy of the hand written lyrics, with stage directions. It is a great glimpse into the mind of Mr James, and sir I take my hat off to you (it's more of a base ball cap, but you get the idea).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2011
Very solid effort, with MMJ consolidating their position as one of the more vital bands on the planet. If you liked the last two Lps, you won't be disappointed.

I seem to be in the minority in loving 'Evil Urges' - it was the exhuberance and playful experimentalism that made it work. Continually trying to be too cool for school is boring. They know that.

Fortunately, the sense of fun is once again evident on '...Black Metal', surely a track of the year contender alongside Lykke Li's 'Sadness is a Blessing'.

This is counterpointed with a couple of gorgeous Jim James ballads and the massive groove of 'Victory Dance'.

Overall, this is a compact, focussed, perfectly balanced addition to their canon.
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on 14 March 2012
I feel that Circuital is a big step back from their last album, a return to a more conventional good time rock 'n roll. I actually loved their last LP - Evil urges, which embraced all kinds of directions, from futuristic funk to MOR Bee-Gees influences, it was quite a melting pot. However, it didn't go down to well with a lot of fans who seemed to prefer the classic rock/Americana side of things and were horrified by some of the tongue in cheek humor and stylistic experiments it contained - the band embracing their "evil urges" indeed.

It seems MMJ have either listened to the fans or decided, for their own reasons, to go back to their roots. Personally, I'm quite sad to see them return to a musically conservative template.I wish they'd stuck to their guns more. This is a "classic rock" record, that could have been recorded in 74 and there's little studio wizardry, as it was mostly recorded live. Not a bad record but one I've barely listened to since I first heard it, in marked contrast to the two preceding LP's.
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on 8 May 2012
I was new to My Morning Jacket when I saw their Jools Holland performance of 'Holdin' On To Black Metal' and was instantly intrigued. Their big sounds, Jim James' big hair...

I duly bought Cicuital and it does not disappoint. It's a strange and brave album, oft crossing into genres I can't quite describe but MMJ (for those of you who don't know) are a stright up rock band with electric guitars, their sound augmented by the smoothness of Jim James' voice and some intriguing keyboard sounds. The Jacket aren't afraid of a melody and that's what makes songs like Holdin' On To Black Metal, You Wanna Freak Out and the achingly beautiful Wonderful quite so perfect. And whilst those three are (for me) the undoubted prime cuts, the title track, Outta My System and First Light are also worthy tunes.

If you're looking for a reference point, MMJ are like a more cultured man's Foo Fighters (with a considerably less disgusting guitar tone) or a less growly Biffy Clyro. Buy this album!
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on 3 August 2011
I've only heard two of their albums - this and Z. This is a very accessible indie rock/folk album, full of rich melodies and stomping beats. It's one of those fun, joyful albums that you can listen as a whole, because it's such an enjoyable listen. If I were to pick out highlights, listen to Circuital and Holdin' On To Black Metal. But again, every track on Circuital is just great.

If you like folk rock, definitely give this a try!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2011
Being a bit of a MMJ fan I am still coming to terms with Evil Urges - still not sure if I like it,love it or hate it (conclusion "patchy"). But that is the effect My Morning Jacket tends to have on one. So this new album, I heard the track Circuital on the radio and went out and bought the album - expecting to hate it, thinking...past their best, shot their bolt, over the hill etc etc. First ten listens, whats this, its good - ah but that will wear off - the supercificial first listens are always easy. Next ten to twenty listens - hang on, I can't stop playing this - whats going on? Strange. Get up, what to play? answer always seems to be Circuital. Now - must be fifty listens in - admit it.... This Is A Great Album! - Sublime first 13 minutes of Victory Dance straight into Circuital - this is one of the best openings to an album I have heard in a long, long time ( and I go back to mid seventies in listening experience). From then on, just great song after great song, after great song. There really is not a duff track here. Coming to the conclusion this is my album of the year for 2011 so far. What else can I say - I am off to buy more of MMJ's back catalogue - Enjoy!
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on 4 February 2013
Love this new discovery of a band, heard of it on American Dad! A couple of epic tracks, but the rest are mediocre (same goes for Evil Urges I think). But beauty is in the eye of the beholder so I don't really see the point in this review - everyone is different in music tastes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2011
Whilst I love this band I've not always taken to everything they've done instantly. It took to see them live to find a new appreciation of a lot of their songs. All the same this new album is exactly what I've needed - from start to finish it just works. Don some headphones, lie back and let it wash over you, then repeat.

A far better album than the last one, with Tennessee Fire quality stuff albeit with awesome production. I can't objectively say whether this is a good starting point as I already love the band but it is a perfect album. I started with It Still Moves and then just bought everything else!

In summary, get this and listen to it alone. Let it soundtrack 2011.
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