Recording from the road is a popular theme for electronic-based artists this year. The Gorillaz released an album of sketches from the band’s lead singer, Damon Albarn, which he had compiled while on the road. Now Moby joins the fray with “Destroyed,” a record that Moby says he recorded largely during insomniac stints while on tour.
“Destroyed” could be a word for the way Moby feels during a long stretch of tour dates. Regardless of intent the album has a gloomy mood, especially in comparison to the musician’s livelier, more popular fare. The artist’s tenth album is a collection of different kinds of darkness.
The album opens with “The Broken Places,” which sets an ambient tone that could go either way. The next track, “Be The One,” indicates the rest of the album will be getting low, not high. “Be The One” shares a thematic link with the rest of the music on the album. The next track, “Sevastopol” picks up the pace, just not the mood. Ironically, the most upbeat track on the album is “Victoria Lucas,” named for the pen name of Sylvia Plath, the suicidal poet.
Everyone is entitled to have a bad day. My hope would have been that Moby could have taken his blues and turned them into something engaging or exciting. The album does more to force the listener to sympathize than to offer an escape from the doldrums.
One track that gets it right is “After,” a dose of depression that could still fit in on a dance floor. The music is creepy but aggressive, allowing Moby and listeners to make like the B-52’s and “dance this mess around.”
Moby’s lets the listener hear how he feels on “Destroyed.” But the point is understood after several tracks. By the time he gets to eight-minute “Lacrimae” late in the album, we’re bored.