Moby — ‘All Visible Objects’
THE GOOD: Electronic artist Moby (Richard Hall) comes back with his 17th.
THE BAD: “Objects” is both a bold step into the light AND a throwback. Not BAD, but don’t expect any new tricks.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Most of Moby’s output over the past decade has gone in one of two directions — very introspective OR highly critical of the outside world. Recent albums feature long bouts of down-tempo rhythms and softer moments. “Objects” changes all that. Here, we do get two slower, almost jazzy pieces right next to each other.
The other nine tracks are much more up-tempo. And that’s where ’90s vibes take over and the record sounds somewhat dated. Lead single “Power Is Taken” would have fit nicely on a Faithless set circa 1997. “Rise up in Power” is a soaring club banger; Moby definitely is in his turn-of-our-century wheelhouse. “Tecie” is seamless and hypnotic. But the guy is showing us a better time than usual.
BUY IT?: Why not? Moby is donating all proceeds to various charities.
Chicano Batman — ‘Invisible People’
THE GOOD: Latino-American band Chicano Batman offers us a tight fourth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Invisible People” finds changes within the band’s sound and style. This is its first album entirely in English, making the music more accessible to people who may have never heard of these guys. The songwriting is more accomplished, too. Loose jamming so prevalent at one time has been exchanged for bold melodies, tight rhythms and a street-smart vibe that pushes things forward. There isn’t an ounce of fat on this record.
Lyrically, the album gets topical. Frontman Bardo Martinez guides the crew through songs revolving around justice, racial inequality and hopefully a brighter future. But even the heavy moments are counterbalanced with funky guitars and sparkling keyboards. “Invisible People” ends up a serious album that’s also breezy and feels oh-so-good. This is an outdoors-cruising-with-the-top-down kind of playlist. Even somewhat somber closer “Wounds” is less about grief and more about a perfect ending to the journey.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Empress Of — ‘I’m Your Empress Of’
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter/producer Lorely Rodriguez (stage name Empress Of) comes back with a confident third.
THE BAD: Not really.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Her last album, 2018’s “Us,” was very much a collaborative effort with various producers and songwriters. “I’m Your” is more of a solo, home-based record. Before its writing and recording, Rodriguez ended a relationship, so she took all of those scattered emotions and threw them into the music. The end result is an airtight, streamlined (and less noisy) dance set where the individual songs flow into one another, creating a greater whole.
Tracks such as “Bit of Rain,” “U Give it Up” and “Maybe This Time” are built on liquid beats, wobbly basslines and soaring melodies. Rodriguez’s voice is stronger than ever, but it has to be. The woman is all alone and has to be tough. She rises to the occasion.
“I’m Your” is dance music with an attitude and real intelligence. Rodriguez further proves she’s not a one-dimensional act.
BUY IT?: Oh yes.