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Album review: Moby's 'Destroyed'

May 16, 2011 |  6:30 pm

Moby_destroyed_ In his liner notes, Moby states that foreign cities, late at night when he struggled with insomnia, provided the perfect backdrop for the creation of “Destroyed.” It’s easy to picture: the musician, alone in the sterile hotel rooms of the globe, writing the gentle dystopia of his ninth studio release, perhaps cradling his bald pate in moments of frustration. He also released with the album a sleek photography book of images of cities pulsing in their anonymity, like bad dreams out of a J.G. Ballard novel.

As a concept, these odes to isolation all fit together, but it doesn’t make for particularly compelling entertainment. “Destroyed” is so uniform in mood — sleepily alienated or sleepily wondrous — that after a while, you long for something to rip through the transatlantic wallpaper. With 15 synth-heavy tracks, “Destroyed” often feels simply too long, and not varied enough in its posh detachment.

Removed from the album’s pristine vault of air-conditioned chill, some of the tracks can be appreciated as singular objects of beauty. The delicately ghostly “Rockets,” with Inyang Bassey filling in the Martina Topley Bird role of beautiful but doomed songbird (the kind of woman who might get around to killing herself if she ever gets off this couture dress), is probably the most evocative track here.

But all the songs are encased behind such stylish glass that it’s hard to feel much of anything while listening to “Destroyed,” much less identification with the plight of the nomadic musician. Indeed, how much sympathy can you really muster for the artist, ensconced in his 1,000-thread-count sheets, moistening his lips with sparkling artesian water before he finally relents to sleep? Probably more than the luxe distance of “Destroyed” will allow.

Two stars (Out of four)


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— Margaret Wappler