- Audio CD (6 Jun. 2011)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: V2 Cooperative Music
- ASIN: B004VSAHO6
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,162 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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"It just felt a lot like it did when we started out," says Jim James of making Circuital, My Morning Jacket’s sixth studio album – words that will be met with sweet relief by those who found 2008’s Evil Urges one glitzy-soul-funk genre-meld too far. Here, experimental leanings are cast aside in favour of sizzling jams, massive hooks and a pair of the most beautiful ballads James has ever written. Co-produced by the singer and Tucker Martine (who he met while contributing backing vocals to Laura Veirs’ July Flame), the emphasis during recording was on catching the sound of a band "feeding off each other" in a room, something captured admirably in these 10 songs.
Victory Dance sets the bar very, very high – James’ shamanistic ramblings matched to a menacing groove poised to turn in on itself at any second – before the title-track pushes it higher still, a contemplation of cycles, loops, circuits and "spinning out gracefully" only to end up "right in the same place we started out". Bolstered by virtuosic guitar work and carried by James’ persuasive croon, almost every aspect of what makes the group such a thrilling prospect is present in its seven minutes, and in this respect it acts as a blueprint for the record as a whole.
Almost every aspect, mind: James’ warm tones are purpose-built for the kind of emotion presented on Movin’ Away, a gorgeous, gentle waltz which closes proceedings. Warm piano chords and slide guitar inform its Nashville-flavoured sound, the second line of each verse finding his voice crack into aching falsetto to quietly magnificent effect.
Between these two poles the band revels in exuberant, glammy pop and driving Southern-fried rock: replete with children’s choir, Holdin’ On to Black Metal is funny and sweet in all the ways Evil Urges’ Highly Suspicious wasn’t, while You Wanna Freak Out and The Day Is Coming burrow deep into your consciousness after but one or two listens. Wonderful (The Way I Feel), meanwhile, is a halcyon ode to contentment, furnished by strings that lilt and swerve into pockets of the song you’d least expect.
Not a reinvention or a full-circle, then, My Morning Jacket’s sixth is better than either of these things: a reminder both to its players exactly why they got into this music lark to begin with, and to all of us how effortlessly enjoyable they are at their best
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Top Customer Reviews
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".Read more ›
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.
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).
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
thank funk I fell on this gem of an album alt- country rock. with a great vocalist Jim James I`d just buy this album you`ll see what I mean...Published 21 months ago by joker1961
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). Read morePublished on 4 Feb. 2013 by Lizzy
This is not Z but it's still A1. Jim James rarely disappoints and this continues a stream of original but accessible ideas.Published on 1 Feb. 2013 by lonniej
I heard My Morning Jacket on American Dad and had to buy an album, Circuital is well worth listening to.Published on 8 Jan. 2013 by Ian
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... Read morePublished on 8 May 2012 by James Mcwilliam Woods
I feel that Circuital is a big step back from their last album, a return to a more conventional good time rock 'n roll. Read morePublished on 14 Mar. 2012 by Amazon Customer
I have kept this item for Christmas morning,i'm sure that the cd
will be excellent and i will enjoy very much.An excellent and prompt
There's some good stuff on the CD, but overall, my feeling is that a small number of musical ideas have been spread out too thinly to make an album. Read morePublished on 16 Sept. 2011 by Dr. F. M. Wayman
Having read a review rating this band highly decided to give it a punt and have not been disappointed. Difficult to describe but this album is a bit like a more rocky Fleet foxes. Read morePublished on 9 Sept. 2011 by P. Gibson