There are certain things My Morning Jacket fans have come to expect from each new record from the Kentucky quintet. It seems that in analyzing the band’s records, the album in scrutiny is either “more like Z” or “more like It Still Moves.”
My Morning Jacket is a band that, while never failing to please its fan base, innovates and recreates their sound with each offering. The band’s sixth studio album, Circuital, out May 31 on ATO Records, provides listeners with the staples of My Morning Jacket records of old while proving a testament to the musical progress the band has made since 2008’s Evil Urges.
Easing their listeners into the new album, My Morning Jacket starts off with “Victory Dance,” a slow groove in which Patrick Hallahan’s drums and Bo Koster’s keyboards play off one another to effectively draw the band’s audience in.
There is a moment on every good record when you realize that the band has defined themselves with a single musical moment. This moment occurs during the title track on Circuital, the second track of the album.
Over seven minutes long, the song is lyrically nervous. James croons about the fear of growing older (as a band or a person, we’ll never know) and failing to progress.
The song’s lyrics evoke the image of a circle, a never ending cycle, and Koster’s keyboards are in the same vain, teasing up and down, back and forth, spiraling.
Perhaps the most grabbing part of the song is guitarist Carl Broemel’s solo, serving as the culmination of the song, the breaking of the endless circuit.
In a recent appearance on VH1’s Storytellers performing “Circuital,” James said that after Broemel played the solo for the first time in the midst of recording the album, the band knew that moment would be the part of the album that would stand out most to their listeners.
“Carl ripped a crazy guitar solo and we were all just like ‘Oh my god that was the best guitar solo of all time,’” James said.
The strongest part of the album is the mid to latter part. “First Light” looks back to the alternative country roots the band came into their own playing. The bass line moves the song along and the fuzzed out guitars control the melody and add a layer of tasteful distortion and psychedelic bliss.
If there is a weak point on Circuital it is the lack of that long guitar groove that has been present on most My Morning Jacket records. It Still Moves has “Steam Engine,” Z has “Dondante” and Evil Urges has “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream Pt. 2.” These songs are some of the best moments on My Morning Jacket Records and have become the most essential components of the band’s live set.
While the album may lack a long jam, it should not be judged against what it lacks compared to the band’s previous records. My Morning Jacket is a band that will always be moving forward.
– Chris Gambon, MUSE Editor