Ten years ago Moby’s slowburning Play album set the charts alight, going on to sell 10 million copies worldwide. Impressive stuff but, as every single track was licensed to TV ads and plastered all over programmes from Match Of The Day to Location, Location, Location, it became an album that many people owned, but nobody needed to listen to.
Like Fatboy Slim‘s You’ve Come A Long Way Baby before it, the ubiquity of the music eventually nullified its original power and impact. But that was a decade and several albums ago, and 2008’s Last Night was firmly aimed at the dancefloor, hinting at Moby’s pre-Play techno past.
So does Wait For Me continue the rave-laden theme? Not in the slightest. But don’t switch off and dismiss this as more of the same downtempo-by-numbers either. This self-released selection may follow similar lines to Play but while 18 sounded largely like a transparent carbon copy of its predecessor and Hotel a vague attempt at mixing things up, Wait For Me sounds more like a furthering and refinement of Play’s more horizontal, melancholic moments.
The orchestral opener, Division, sets out the album’s stall and by the time Pale Horses, featuring Amelia Zirin Brown on vocals, is over it’s clear this is going to be a sedate, slightly bittersweet journey. Indeed, Pale Horses walks a well-trodden path with its downtempo beats and Moby’s trademark swelling, string-laden chords but there’s also a newfound poise and maturity to the end results.
The reverse instrumentation and yearning guitar of Shot In The Back Of The Head are a case in point. It’s the sort of track that is guaranteed to be all over TV shows and ads immediately, which is a genuine shame as it’s an epic, classical-sounding highlight. Tracks such as Study War could easily have been on Play or 18 but, if they aren’t played to death as his biggest seller was, they should hold their own and retain their sparkle.
And it’s sparkle that Wait For Me retains almost throughout. Perhaps it’s the lack of major label expectation on his shoulders but this is Moby’s most considered effort for a decade. Touching ballads such as JLTF and Hope Is Gone rub shoulders with the acoustic guitar and wafting piano of Scream Pilots, the stripped back country ambience of Ghost Return and the ethereal vocals and string section of the title track.
Wait For Me is very much the yin to Last Night’s yang, the flipside of Moby’s musical personality. For those who find Moby’s mellow side anaemic and uninteresting or who would prefer it if the New Yorker just stuck to creating uptempo dance anthems, Wait For Me will disappoint. But for anyone wanting to hear a genuine progression from the blueprint laid out by Play and to enjoy the calmer, more ethereal and undeniably sadder side of Moby’s music, Wait For Me is worthy of further investigation.