My Morning Jacket: “Circuital”

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Early reports of My Morning Jacket’s sixth release, fueled in part by its title, Circuital, speculated that they’d be returning to the rootsy, Southern psychedelia of discs like At Dawn and It Still Moves.

Not so much. Sure, the reverb is mostly back on Jim James’s vocals, and yes, it’s a little more reigned in than the wacky funk of Evil Urges, but this isn’t a rock record by any means. Nope, there’s still plenty of sonic experimentation and stylistic hopscotch. But this time it all fits together. It doesn’t stay fixed in one genre for too long, but regardless of each song’s style, they all feel utterly from another time, as if you’re listening to AM radio in 1970.

There’s the Brian Wilson-esque melodies of “Outta My System,” the acoustic singer-songwriter ballad “Wonderful (The Way I Feel),” the piano-based “Movin Away,” and finally, the funked up “Holdin’ on to Black Metal” (think Curtis Mayfield plus a children’s choir).

But the live centerpieces will undoubtedly be the disc’s first two (and longest) tracks, “Victory Dance” and “Circuital,” the kind of long, slow, psychedelic rave-ups that came late on It Still Moves and Z.

Do I want MMJ to release a guitar-heavy rock album again? Yes I do. But this is a very rewarding effort, especially after about three listens. It sounds like nothing else out there right now.

4/5 stars

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