Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt


Little Idiot, 2018


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


After two albums of angry punk blasts, Moby returns to his more familiar warm electronica sound on his 15th album, Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt.

On a macro level, the album immediately deals with the hurt of a broken world, one whose problems were glaringly brought into focus by the Brexit/Trump 2016 election. Where in 2016 and 2017 Moby (among many other artists) was righteously angry, he is now gloomy, bleak and trying to comfort both himself and the listener with sounds that assure us things will be fine. Right? Maybe?

Even the title evokes the dreaminess that you feel right after sedation before surgery or that moonlit moment between wakefulness and dreams, the moments when you’re not sure what’s going on, you don’t remember much and everything just seems peaceful. This is the moment before the shit hits the fan, and in Moby’s mind, it already has, so now we need something to help us hang on.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The album is a cross between a tone poem and the quieter sections of Play such as “Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad.” Moby murmurs all of his vocals, either afraid to feel or occupying a space between resigned and numb, leaving the actual singing here and there to the soulful Mindy Jones (Raquel Rodriguez and Julie Mintz pop in as well). It’s a tough album to listen to in one sitting and very few of the tracks will make any fan’s Top 10 Moby list, but the intent seems rather to produce a cohesive album of emotion instead of a collection of various sounds and songs like Play.

In that sense, the album succeeds, but it still feels of a melancholic period in time and not a lasting statement. Because if the macro level is culture circa 2018, the micro level is Moby’s own thoughts and fears about his life, eloquently expressed in a near-rap on “This Wild Darkness:” “I'll try, but I'll never be free / Always plagued by what I can never be / Alone, the dreams of hopes and wasted goals.” Ever felt that way about society? Ever felt that way about your own life?

The best track here, if one had to single out a moment, is “The Ceremony Of Innocence,” which weds a deceptively simple electro-beat to a moody piano figure and movie-climax-quality keyboards that separate the verses. “Like A Motherless Child” reimagines a classic song with a trip-hop beat, Moby’s shy spoken words and one of the few spots on this disc that really pops.

At times cinematic, at other times a bit dull, and always very serious, Everything is akin to an Oscar nominee for Best Picture in that you can agree it was a good movie but you really didn’t love it (raise your hands if you have watched The English Patient on purpose at any point in the last 17 years). It’s grand without being grandiose, it’s dark without being hopeless, it’s fragile without drifting into the void. Like most of Moby’s output, it’s easier to admire than to truly love, but there will come a moment when the sound and spirit of Everything will get to you if you have any shred of emotion in your body.

Rating: B-

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© 2018 Benjamin Ray 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 Little Idiot, and is used for informational purposes only.