Album of the Week: Moby – Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt

Moby has engaged in a flurry of creative pursuits over the last few years. While some of his classic records like Go and Porcelain have received the remix treatment from artists like Rex the Dog and Timo Maas, he’s finally put his life into words with the very funny and poignant Porcelain memoirs, showcasing a proficiency for word craft we’ve only sampled through the lyrics on his albums. Last year, he released two guitar-driven albums, “These systems are failing” and “More songs about the Apocalypse”, which in the age of president Trump, saw Moby return to the sectarian sound of Punk that he has on occasion entertained to air his political frustrations.

He released two ambient albums over  2015 and 2016, all the while keeping his audience guessing as to which direction he will favour for his next musical, or artistic pursuit. Now, with much anticipation comes “Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt”; an album that comes the closest to the sound of Moby on “Play”, the most successful album ever to be release by the artist.

The charm of the album lies in the artist’s ability to channel an electronic, dance music palette into the popular form. This hints at something of “Play” throughout the album, but where that 1999 album stayed close to Moby’s rave roots with tracks like “Bodyrock” and “Machete”,”Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt” feigns any indulgent diversions as if “Play” was an album only consisting of only “Natural Blues” variations.

A sweet melancholy drifts through the entire record as elongated pads and synths ebb across jagged electronic beats and Moby’s wistful vocal utterances, often counterpointing a soulful female vocal. Themes of nostalgia and longing pace through the premise of the album, executed as something upbeat in reserved tempos. There’s a solemn gospel quality to the entire record from the voices to the exalting phases of the production and Moby’s blues inclinations.

The album harks back to an era of electronic music composition in the late nineties when people like Moby and Massive Attack were propelled into the popular consciousness as a new pop-sensibility started to infiltrate  variations of trance, house and trip-hop. It’s an unapologetic introspective album from the artist, and although the titles might hint at an abominable sadness, beyond the lyrics there is hidden happiness in the music that’s pensive and richly rewarding if you give it the time.

In a Guardian interview last year Moby said of the album, “I find it almost emancipating that there’s almost no commercial potential for it” and on “Everything was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt” that really comes to the fore. There are no musical distractions in the form of an unwanted single, and from start to finish there’s a very prominent mood and sound that paces consistently through the record, in a sonic moment which sees Moby at his best, yet again.