By Michael Deeds
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
The tipping point of My Morning Jacket's outstanding fifth studio album, "Evil Urges," is song 3, a jaw-dropper that underscores the band's confident eccentricity: "Highly Suspicious" sounds like the squealing vocalist from the Darkness giggling over a funk groove while Malcolm Young of AC/DC barks out backing vocals. It's ingeniously ridiculous. And if it's one of the freakiest rock tracks of 2008 (and nothing like the rest of these songs), it won't stop the Kentucky quintet's most gorgeously produced CD from making many Top 10 lists at the end of the year.
Frontman Jim James takes songwriting chances that pay beautiful dividends. Whether singing naturally or, increasingly, in a falsetto, he has one of rock's most organic, alluring voices. Dropping much of the reverb that saturated its previous albums, My Morning Jacket infuses these eclectic, catchy songs with creative flourishes ranging from propulsive synths ("Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1") and rich strings ("Thank You Too!") to blue-sky anthems ("I'm Amazed") and angelic pedal steel ("Sec Walkin' "). Critics slobbered over 2005's "Z" album. This beats it.
Several tracks exude an indie-space-rock vibe not entirely unlike the Flaming Lips, but simpler moments are often more moving. The imagery in "Librarian," a ballad about love among the stacks, is strikingly delicate. "Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me," James sings wistfully, summing up what My Morning Jacket has done as a band.
DOWNLOAD THESE:"Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Pt. 1," "Highly Suspicious," "Librarian"