My Morning Jacket
Every band comes to a point in its career where making the music that earned it renown, acclaim and adoration becomes boring. It’s at this stage that they either just write “more songs” — like The Ramones, AC/DC or Motorhead — or transform, in the vein of Radiohead or Wilco, and risk everything to start anew. My Morning Jacket has chosen the latter on the inspiring Z. The album is the Kid A of Southern rock, a true masterstroke of genre revitalization and reinvention. Drawing influence from The Flaming Lips, reggae and “Benny and the Jets,” the band pushes each track to epic levels. Their songs combine a sense of humour with artistic aspiration and the musical ability to pull both off. “Wordless Chorus” sets the bar high early, opening the album with tones totally unrecognizable compared to the band’s previous album, It Still Moves. “It Beats for You” takes it even further, as the group shows more influence from Kraftwerk than the expected Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers. Each song that follows continues to extend Z’s diversity. This progression peaks with “Off the Record” and “Into the Woods,” which show the group dropping their guard, delivering a loose, sparse and exciting vibe. It’s one of the few recent discs that truly gives the impression that the band is making music not just because they are exceptionally good at it, but because they love to do it. My Morning Jacket’s overt embracing of “strange” may leave some fans feeling confused, but what important musical statement hasn’t?