Verdict – 8.7
The fourth album for American psychedelic rock band My Morning Jacket, represented a significant change from previous outings and made use of synthesizers and incorporated heavy amounts of reggae and dub influences. The amount of rock in general has been decreased largely in this record but still provide some of the brightest moments on Z. The times when the guitarists are really allowed to take centre stage are some of the most memorable and attention grabbing parts.
The album opener, Wordless Chorus, is a perfect example to show the change of musical style and an effective basis for the rest of the album. Set to a repetitive dub based background with strong vocal work, the song really hits hard when lead singer James uses his falsetto in the ‘chorus’ and the outro especially. The album’s best track, Off the Record, manages to convert signature guitar playing into a catchy reggae record, before toning it down for the second half of the track with some down-tempo progressive rock. A real highlight in Z is Lay Low, which utilises the vocal talents of James and makes the song feel very accessible towards the music market. It also has the best showcase of guitar in the album, with a stunning guitar duel towards the end of the song.
With Z, it is clear My Morning Jacket have tried to push boundaries and tried to revolutionize the way their music could sound and appeal to listeners. Although I can see why many fans may have been a bit put off by the change in musical style, it is hard to see how an innovative record such as this could not gain the recognition it deserves. A solid showcase of ambition and musical knowledge, there is a lot to like in this album.
Top Songs – Wordless Chorus, Off the Record, Lay Low