Welcome to the Moby Hotel

Moby’s Play is one of the most ubiquitous albums of all time, with all 18 tracks being licensed for commercial use. His follow-up 18 was more downbeat, but followed a familiar formula of moody trance and dance rock. In short, Moby is a melder of genres, successfully mixing elements of ambient, blues, dance, funk, rock, and techno music.

With his stay at the Hotel, Moby returns to the varied styles and tempos found on Play. But he packs his bags a little lighter by eschewing his signature samples that were central choral elements in his previous two outings, opting to take the mic himself.

The results are mixed. Thankfully though, he enlists the help of alterna-rocker Laura Dawn to fill the void of the requisite female vocals, especially on the mesmerizing cover of New Order’s “Temptation” and the lubricious writhing of “I Like It.”

Dawn’s alluringly breathy vocals are one of the album’s strengths, but the same can’t be said of Moby’s monochromatic vocal palette. With exceptions like the arachnid anthem “Spiders,” there’s little emotion in his relatively robotic voice, maybe because he knows his limits. Still, the album feels more organic and personal sans samples.

Moby’s often abstract lyrics are another weak spot. While it’s respectable that he’s writing more of his own material, his words are either too sophomoric, repetitive, nebulous, or some combination of these.

But Moby’s focus is on the music, and he can probably get away with rhyming “bad” and “sad” over and over again if you’re more of a mindless listener.

With that in mind, Hotel’s music is mellifluous with its danceable beats, kinetic guitars, and pensively permeating synth progressions. The album opens with a dreamy “Hotel Intro,” only to be aroused by the driving drumbeat of “Still Raining.” The first single, “Beautiful,” follows with an attractive guitar groove and Moby taking potshots at pulchritudinous celebrities like Nick and Jessica.

As a result of frequenting New York City’s club circuit, there’s also Joy Division-inspired tunes like “Very” and “Lift Me Up,” the latter of which may prompt you to get up and do a leg-kicking, tribal disco dance (even if you’re not drunk).

Hotel comes with a second disc of amenities: the Eno-inspired Hotel-Ambient (call it Music For Hotels). This round of slow-Mo-bee is replete of enveloping soundscapes and slow-burning instrumentals, though it probably won’t get too many spins in your CD player.

When taken as a whole, Hotel / Hotel-Ambient is somewhat of a m

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