Ambitious. Haunting. A gorgeous soundscape of beautiful dirtiness. And that's all just the first song. My Morning Jacket's latest does not simply open with "Evil Urges," it invades. As I've lived with the song unable to stop playing it for a weekend, I've put this song to many informal tests: listening through computer speakers, headphones, car and home stereos, first searching for a weakness and then just reliving the dream. I've listened both intently and while doing other activities (walking, shopping, driving, parking, dish washing, journalling, etc.'ing) and I see no problem in naming it the best new song of the year, and the forerunner for this year's summer song. Beginning with a guitar lick related to those applied to In Rainbows, the jam quickly saunters into the land of the sexy, and it's a welcome journey. Listening to it alone may be the only reasonable measure of birth control since the tune practically orders listeners to grab someone around the waist for a night of sweaty dancing usually reserved for Alfonso CuarÃ³n films. It's like the best Prince song that Wilco ever recorded, only better. After a second chorus of barely intelligible lyrics (What was that? "Evil... something, baby?"), the song snaps into what some might foolishly dismiss as a conventional "break down," relying heavy on a harder guitar riff. But not only does "Urges" make this section, the "passionate doin' it section" I imagine, fun and exciting, but when it returns to that inevitable and unforgettable slow jam from the opening, it retains a few aftershocks of the harder riff.
The opening falsetto-fueled five minutes delivers such a fantastic bump 'n' grind that it very nearly merits a full album recommendation all by itself. Luckily it doesn't have to carry the day on its very capable shoulders. There are other gems among Evil Urges' remaining 13 tracks, but a few clunkers as well. Perhaps by having the unenviable position of following the opening love fest, "Highly Suspicious" feels downright pedestrian in almost every aspect, and I swore "Two Halves" was going to turn out to be a Badfinger cover. If only. I would have much preferred to hear the reassuring "No matter what you are" calling out than quite possibly the lamest lyrics I've heard in the year ("Remember when you were seventeen, You was goin' crazy, you know what I mean." Poetry), but these are mere trifles. The ramblings of a crank with a minimum word count. Jacket fans will forgive the band for doing a weird sideways remake of "T.H.E.H.I.V.E.S." in "Highly Suspicious" because the album's highlights far and away outshine the lowlights.
Far and away. It may be sick love of new hotness, but have no fear of overselling the opening track. At the risk of ruining my chances of writing more on the song for my weekly "Greatest Song At This Moment" column (available new every Monday, right here on The Tripwire!), the song will accomplish one of two things for listeners. It will either draw in new Jacket fans that never knew they could have it so good and they will make out to this song... OR it will become over-hyped and the listener be left to discover the wonderful swagger of "I'm Amazed" or the delicate charm of "Librarian." Even if they're libidos do not find a new soundtrack on the first song, their ears will find another love shortly down the road. The world is a better place either way.
MP3 Download - "Evil Urges"