My Morning Jacket

Evil Urges (ATO)

Phases & Stages

My Morning Jacket

Evil Urges (ATO)

At last year's Austin City Limits Music Festival, My Morning Jacket bent bizarre and epic, frontman Jim James' wigged theatrics almost mocking his harrowing Rolling Thunder white-faced cover of Dylan's "Goin' to Acapulco" for 2007 film I'm Not There. The contrast was appropriate given James' equally iconic and elusive emergence as Southern rock savior obscured behind a wash of reverb and a wreath of hair. Yet, if 2005's Z culminated the Louisville, Ky., quintet's early Crazy Horse adoration into their own expansive, sonically rich language, the group's polarizing fifth LP attempts to rewrite the MMJ alphabet altogether. James remains frustratingly chameleon, and here he trades echo for a Prince-bowing falsetto, swooning as unnaturally as intentionally weird. The opening trifecta plays Musicology class clown, the title track trilling breathless R&B and funk into the spacey electronic beats of "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream, Pt. 1." "Highly Suspicious" then derails into absurdity, with James squealing like an adolescent girl at the promise of "peanut butter pudding surprise," while the backing chorus leers in deep, monotone pulses. Sexy is simply not a side of the James Gang anyone wants to encourage. The opening mockery might be more amusing if not followed by flaccid 1970s rock that parody MMJ's reinvention of the genre. "Thank You Too!" and "Look at You" are breezily sincere schlock, while "Sec Walkin" comfortably caters Cat Stevens. Redemption comes in the swell of "I'm Amazed," the effective pop of "Two Halves," and unleashed guitars and howl of "Aluminum Park." The Wilco-pumped ending of "Smokin From Shootin" is stunning. As much as Evil Urges indulges, it rarely satisfies.

**

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More My Morning Jacket
Phases & Stages
My Morning Jacket
Circuital (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, June 10, 2011

Live Shots
My Morning Jacket

Jim Caligiuri, Aug. 29, 2008

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
X: The Godless Void and Other Stories (Record Review)

Alejandra Ramirez, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Daniel Johnston
Chicago 2017 (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Feb. 21, 2020

More by Doug Freeman
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Nov. 27, 2020

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Nov. 20, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

My Morning Jacket

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle