Issue June 7, 2011

Circuital

My Morning Jacket
ATO

It’s neither as expansive as It Still Moves nor as adventurous as Evil Urges, but Circuital is My Morning Jacket’s tightest, breeziest album yet, and it just might be their most compulsively listenable as well. Only once, with the title track, does the band trot out one of their patented epics — the rest of the album alternates mellifluous, unfussy pop/rock (“The Day is Coming,” “You Wanna Freak Out,” the postmodern Beach Boys thrum of “Outta My System”) with plaintive ballads like “Wonderful” and the torchy closer “Movin’ Away.” The band’s experimental bent rears its head on occasion — “Holdin’ On to Black Metal” hearkens back to Evil Urges’ R&B touches but thankfully eschews the ghastly falsetto, while “Victory Dance” lumbers menacingly and effectively — but these elements are deployed judiciously, diversifying but never overpowering MMJ’s most effortless and accessible record to date.