It’s easy to hold a cynical position towards 18 — even at the best of times downtempo music can become a predictable affair, so after consuming over an hour’s worth of Moby’s tried and tested chillout formula you’d have no qualms branding it a monotonous, lazy record.
But perhaps this is missing the point. After all, this is the same Moby formula that worked to great success on his previous effort Play, a release that elevated Moby into the spotlight of electronic music with its infectious energy and accessible sample-based grooves. Therein lies Moby’s strong point; accessibility, a trait that is difficult to master, but apparently easy to exaggerate. Obliged by previous success, 18 was disappointingly methodical, rarely steering away from his usual antics of ‘vocal sample/drum machine/keyboard frolicking’ and ultimately showed very little ambition.
Yet in its own gentle way, the album still makes for a somewhat satisfying listen. Aside from some dull moments that merely prolong proceedings, 18 stands as a pretty relaxing album, one that operates in a way any decent chillout record should. And it’s probably too placid to care what you think anyway.
7 out of 10
It’s difficult to understand why 18’s release was met with a combination of plaudits and disdain, as I don’t think it deserves either. Lasting a slow 70 minutes, most of the album consists of a flat brand of electronica that in its nothing entirety loses most of the character its stronger tracks flicker with. Its best moments take place in the ambient realm — and are lovely — but such tracks are a small minority.
Beyond that, I suspect 18’s more agreeable bursts owe their existence more to the length of the album than to the care with which it was put together. Throw enough sweet nothings and some of them stick, I suppose. Certainly there are enough of them to warrant a run-through and suss out individual tracks that might suit a custom playlist, but the work as a whole doesn’t invite repeat listens.
6 out of 10
18 clearly left many listeners unsure of what to think. With reviews for the album ranging from insults to unwaivering praise, it certainly divided opinion. Strung together with down tempo drum beats, silky basslines, warming pads, and soulful vocals, it’s certainly a very consumable album, with little to jolt a listener’s senses.
This, I feel, is the downfall of 18. Coming from the variety of Play, listeners are met with an album far less explorative than the last. What Moby takes away from previous experience, he uses well in bouts across the album, with a strong opening, and some interesting runners up sprinkled across the album. Extrapolating this chilled electronica to a full album, however, is a step too far for me and, I’d guess, a healthy majority of listeners.
Much of the album passes me by too easily, and returning to it has brought me to the sad reaslisation that I usually stop listening less than quarter of the way into the album.
6 out of 10