By Ted S. McGregor Jr. and Sheri Boggs
Hotel TWO STARS
It appears that Moby is starting to like the sound of his own voice -- and that's not a good thing for his fans. Notorious for getting people on the dance floor as one of New York's top DJs (and for being related to Herman Melville), Moby's first two hit CDs rarely featured his voice. Most of his songs sampled vocals from old R & amp;B records, and they sounded really cool. In small doses, Moby's voice offered a nice counterpoint to people who could actually sing.
On Hotel, Moby has abandoned this formula, singing every track but one. "Dream About Me," a duet with Laura Dawn, is nice, but the rest of this CD shows what can happen when fame goes to your head. "Spiders" is inane, "I Like It" is creepy and the bonus CD of "ambient" music is worthless. If by "ambient" you were expecting the kinds of soaring, upbeat instrumentals that Moby sprinkled on Play and 18 (like "Guitar, Flute & amp; String," which was great in the film Seabiscuit), you'll be disappointed. --Ted S. McGregor Jr.
Guero THREE STARS
Which flavor of Beck do you prefer? There's one for just about every mood -- the wildly inventive hip-hop Beck of Odelay, the "hey mama, let's get funky" Beck of Midnite Vultures and even the lonely depressive Beck of Sea Change. I approached Guero with giddy delight -- wondering which Beck I might discover inside this intriguingly packaged CD with its florid cursive and cover art reminiscent of The Weakerthans' Reconstruction Site.
The sonorous vocals, the bizarre word associations, the f'ed-up humor and the Mexicali/low-rider sensibility of previous albums are all here. It's as if all of Beck's incarnations are trying to be integrated, but weirdly, the result is less than the sum of its parts. Don't get me wrong, Guero is catchy, listenable fun. Some tracks -- "Scarecrow" and "Girl," for instance, with their electronic beeps and discordant harmonies -- are eminently infectious. Others, including the soporific rap of "Que Onda Guero," are merely guilty pleasures. After several rounds, it grows flat and one begins to wonder where one's copy of Midnite Vultures went. -- Sheri Boggs
Publication date: 04/14/05