Moby’s a punk. I mean that in the best way. Being a pioneer-electronic musician brought him to prominence. Mid-tempo, gently melancholic electronica made him rich. But from his second album, the punky, angry “Animal Rights,” from his cover of goth anthem “New Dawn Fades,” it was clear that there was an edgier, rawer artist underneath. And with “These Systems are Failing,” Moby lets his inner raver/goth/punk hang out, and the result is his most engaging, energized, and perhaps even personal album in a long time.
The songs here are faster, more urgent, more guitar driven. With elements of his early energy, Animal Rights, and the craft he honed over the years, “These Systems are Failing” have the darkness and energy of a punk/goth album, but with the song structures and production quality that he’s honed over the years. The more poppy singles, “Are You Lost in the World Like Me?” and “Almost Loved,” are probably the most traditionally “Moby” sounding tracks, while the more goth-punk “Break.Doubt” and “The Light Is Clear in My Eyes” find Moby getting his Joy Division on. Lyrically, the album is desperate, angry, sad, but always reaching for a reason to hope.
Moby has successfully broken free of the “sameness” of his recent releases to give us something deeply moody and visceral. Some say that hard times result in great art; well, 2016 was not a great year, but it has produced a great Moby album.