V2 Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


The timing for the release of 18 is not proper: it comes as a follow-up to one of the most innovative and best albums of the 1990s, Play. Of course, the expectations for this follow-up were pretty high. This alone is bad for the follow-up. If this is not enough, the follow-up turns out to be strictly mediocre.

Frankly, overwhelmed by the gargantuan success of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Play, Moby has tried to repeat what he had done with its successor 18. It seems as if he has run out of ideas for this album, and didn't have enough of them to make this album unique and special in any way, hence making it sound a lot like Play, only not as good. The result: a number of songs that sound more or less the same as songs on Play.

The songs "In This World," "One Of These Mornings" and "Sunday (The Day Before My Birthday)" are amongst the best on 18, and these sound really good. But sadly, any of these numbers could be "Porcelain" or "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" from Play, if one changes the lyrics. It is because of the striking similarity of these songs from 18 to the ones on Play, that they don't seem as enjoyable as they ought to be. In a way, there is a feeling that not enough justice has been done to both sets of songs, from Play and from 18.

Still, not everything is disheartening about 18. There are also many reasons to smile about this album. Not every good song on 18 sounds like a copy of the ones on Play. To begin with, the first single, "We Are All Made Of Stars," with an uncannily '80s-ish feel to it, is a perfect radio song -- irresistibly likeable. Other songs like "At Least We Tried" and "I'm Not Worried At All" not only have fantastic vocals, but their melancholy, and musically simple and honest nature are touching. As a matter of fact, "I'm Not Worried At All" is a beautiful way to end the album: positive lyrics, simple and somber tune; it really invokes a teardrop or two.

So, 18 is not as good as Play. It appears worse than it is because expectations were set too high by Play, and it can't live up to them. Though it has more than a few memorable moments, 18 is strictly a decent dance album, nothing spectacular.

Rating: C-

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© 2004 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of V2 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.