THESE SYSTEMS ARE FAILING by Moby & The Void Pacific Choir
Genre: Noise Pop, Dance-Punk
Favorite Tracks: “Are You Lost In the World Like Me”
Moby has been making music since the early ʼ90s, and the soundscape of music and the landscape it lives on have changed significantly. As such, his latest effort, THESE SYSTEMS ARE FAILING, is an interesting dance-punk experiment. It’s noisy and demands attention, yet doesn’t end up saying much in the end. While there are elements to appreciate on THESE SYSTEMS ARE FAILING, it doesn’t deliver as a cohesive album that deserves all of the attention it clamors for.
The best thing about THESE SYSTEMS is the concept, but unfortunately, it’s a concept Moby has been exploring for decades. It’s hissy and rebellious like a good punk record, but bases itself in more electronic elements. The album sounds very ʼ80s-inspired in many aspects, comparable to something that could’ve been released alongside a blockbuster movie. The nostalgia of the synths is something that Moby gets right, which is no surprise, considering that he’s had a career spanning nearly three decades and has sold over twenty million records… But, although he’s had great commercial success in the past, I can’t foresee THESE SYSTEMS doing anything close to his numbers of the ‘90s. It seems that though MOBY has been around, he hasn’t been keeping up with the changes to electronic music, as THESE SYSTEMS doesn’t feel as dynamic and inspired as other records releasing on the daily. In other words, the album feels stale.
The sound of the THESE SYSTEMS is too familiar, in a way that makes it sound more dated than nostalgic. The intimations of ʼ80s synthpop that the vocals carry don’t quite work well with the vision of the production. There’s a lot of noise on the album, but most of the time the noise is just simply there, without contributing anything in terms of sonic depth. On “I Wait for You,” rapid punk drum rhythms combine with overblown guitar and a dance floor bass. Though high concept, the elements lack synergy, and come together in a manner that seems forced.
Sounding forced is perhaps the biggest shortfall of THESE SYSTEMS. There are a few songs that I believe do sound organic and inspired, though not enough to justify high appraisal of the album as a whole. High points come in moments such as on “Are You Lost In the World Like Me,” where after the slow and somewhat painful start, a very dynamic and interesting synth-backed hook sings out to create one of the few emotionally raw and authentic moments, singing out the song’s title. The rest of the album sounds quite static, with similar song structure throughout: long, tedious, repetitive. From the instrumental to the vocals, it all seems like one long and generally uninteresting song.
The album closes on a song called “And It Hurts,” which may be least appealing song on the entire album. It’s rather chaotic and artificially angsty, embodying a common theme throughout the entire album. THESE SYSTEMS ARE FAILING is unpleasantly loud and negative. It sticks out as a sore and uninspired thumb in a world where electronic music is taking root in a variety of other genres, contributing to fantastic releases in the process. It appears that Moby either didn’t put much thought into THESE SYSTEMS ARE FAILING, or the album was systematically doomed to fail since the conception of its title.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend