For all of the charges detractors throw at him, from the claim that he can be self-righteously preachy to the oft-repeated criticism that he can’t and shouldn’t sing (a notion I refute), no one has ever accused Moby of trying to appear cool -- not when he was an underground presence on the then-burgeoning techno scene of the early’90s; not when he scored a phenomenal worldwide pop hit with “Play” in 1999 and certainly not now, when he’s returned to his dance roots after two commercially unsuccessful song-oriented albums in “18” (2002) and “Hotel” (2005).
No, the famously bald, Vegan, 42-year-old musician has always geekily but proudly followed his ultra-square muse wherever it might take him, and on his eighth proper album, it takes him on an all-night, presumably substance-fueled tour of the many diverse sounds of New York’s clubland, neatly condensed into a 65-minute album-length experience. And from the amped-up, pulsating sounds of dance-floor ravers such as “Everyday It’s 1989” and “Disco Lies,” to the merger of house and hip-hop on “I Love to Move in Here” (featuring Grandmaster Caz of “Rapper’s Delight” fame, one of a number of guests who pop up on the disc), to gorgeous, introspective, evening-ending chill-out tunes such as “Sweet Apocalypse” and the title track, it’s a joyous ride.
The key to Moby’s appeal and simultaneously the biggest reason why hipsters always shun him is a devotion to sometimes elaborate but always fetching melodies that are absolutely old-school -- and I’m talking very old-school, as in Bach or Mozart. His grooves may not break new ground, and they may sometimes merely ape the work of more cutting-edge DJs. But the combination of those rhythms with his best, often spiritual-sounding hooks makes for an emotional experience uniquely his own and as welcome on the music scene as it was when he made his first big splash with “Go” in 1991.