JTM Grade: 60%
Jim James describes the new My Morning Jacket album to Mojo Magazine:
When a record's done, in my mind it looks like a picture. Until we added one final song, it was like looking at a painting that had a bunch of greens, purples and whites, and it just had to have a streak of red through it somewhere. Now I'm seeing the things I need to see.
He never clarifies what he means, but after the very first listen through Evil Urges, it all becomes clear. The dumbfounding third track 'Highly Suspicious' is Jim's streak of red and damn, if it ain't blinding. Imagine a black hole, its gravity destroying everything in its path with psuedo-Prince stylings and distorted, paranoid cartoon chants. Sounds scary, doesn't it? It is. If I heard the song in another context with wittier lyrics, who knows, it could have made a great addition to Flight of the Conchords' repertoire. But not here. It doesn't just not fit, it sticks out like a, well, like a streak of blood red in an otherwise perfectly gorgeous painting. Just like James describes. You gotta hand it to him. He is obviously well aware of the song's effect and it's what he intended. So way to go, man. It worked and it's a shame.
The rest of the album has some stellar songs, albeit with a slight trend towards '70s MOR stylings, almost Jackson Browne or Eagles-like. I hate the Eagles, so I guess it's not the best comparison, but trust me, the rest of the album is quite good. Stand out songs include the Prince-influenced, but in a good way, title track and the easy listening masterpiece 'Librarian.' Much like 2005's Z, Urges continues to show MMJ venturing away from their southern rock jam band tag. Tracks 1-2, and 4-13 are good to near great at times. But to hell with that stubborn red blot that is 'Highly Suspicious' for fuckin' it all up. Luckily for me, I can just go into iTunes, highlight track 3 of 14, hit delete, click "Yes, I'm sure I want to remove this song from my library" and hocus pocus, it's gone. Perfect.