Moby’s latest long playing release, Reprise, is just that – a reprisal of his biggest hits. A brave – and dare it be said, self-indulgent – act by any accomplished artist. Reprise offers enough authentic reinterpretation to justify the album’s existence but there are certainly a number of hits that should have remained untouched.
First track, Everloving, sets the scene superbly. Moby’s evergreen sound is as recognisable as the New York native’s Statue of Liberty – synths, humming and staccato piano all make an appearance. A beautiful interpretation of the original and a promising introduction to the album.
A revisiting of Natural Blues – one of the big hits around the turn of the millennium – was never going to live up to the original masterpiece. Impressive male and female vocal performances aside, the song is too refined. Although soul-esque in sound, the track lacks any soul, whatsoever.
Third track, Go, should do just that – go and stay gone. A forgettable performance. The album then arrives at Porcelain, which sounds like a demo of the original, as opposed to a rework. Jim James’s vocals supplement Moby’s voice well, and is the only saving grace to another forgettable effort.
Extreme Ways, however, is a complete musical overhaul. Acoustic guitars and souring strings beautify the original dance hit made famous by the Jason Bourne films. lyrically, the content is augmented by the haunting vocal rendition by Moby. Extreme Ways is a triumph! Not better than the original, just very different.
A cover of Eno and Bowie’s Heroes is next on the agenda. Sang beautifully, and subtly accompanied by modest strings; however, the song has been done to death by all and sundry. This is the sort of cover song one might expect to find in a sad scene of a teenage drama – cheesier than cheddar. The track, The Great Escape, is of similar elk – leaving the listener feeling almost embarrassed.
How can you improve on perfection? Moby’s cover of Why Does Why Heart Feel So Bad, had to be nothing short of spectacular to compete the with the original, or so different that interest is peaked. The reworking is neither of the aforementioned. A slow drudge of a song – overproduced in every sense of the word.
Leonard Cohen sounding, The Lonely Night, is fantastic. The vocal performance is perfectly matched with the imagery of desperation and religion. Moby succeeded in not overproducing this hit; any extra bells and whistles would have detracted from the sincerity of the vocals. A real success, and evidence of Moby’s panache for identifying beautiful chord progressions.
We Are All Made Of Stars is a complete revision of the 2002 original. Just like the original track, however, it’s redundant. This trip down memory lane should have been abandoned at day one.
Lift Me Up is where things get very interesting. This is the standout track that betters its original. Aside from the lyrics, the new-and-improved Lift Me Up is as unrecognisable as a child to a senior relative with dementia. The original version was upbeat and jubilant, but the revision is serious and moving. This track begs the question as to why all the songs on this album were not complete reworkings?
Almost Home is a pleasing auditory experience. Mindy Jones’s vocals are familiar in sound – think Imogen Heap – which suits Moby’s musical style nicely, but there is little else worthy of note in this offering. The track also feels longer than the final hour of the working week.
Closing with a guest performance from Skylar Grey, The Last Day is a sad farewell and not a great track to end on. At this point, the performance of female vocalists with the same single style, becomes irritating. The recording of The Last Day is hopefully the last day this song will be tampered with.
Overall, the album is atmospheric and, for the most part, palatable; however, it is better suited as background music, as opposed to active listening. Despite the inclusion of several disparate styles, Moby always pulls off records that move seamlessly from track to track.
The original tracks were rough diamond hits, and several of the original gems have lost their charm from re-polishing. However, this effort is no fugazi.
Skip to: Lift Me Up