Producer-DJ-vocalist-raconteur-et cetera Moby’s most satisfying works in recent years have been those where he plunges into gloom headfirst. Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, his 15th album, is another dip into the pool of melancholia. Lush and haunting, Everything applies the Moby ideal of soulful vocals and big beats to the not-all-that-farfetched idea of a post-apocalyptic landscape, its slow-burn compositions meticulously echoing the dread and despair that results from being human, with dub beats and Yeats lyrics serving as reminders of pre-Big One existence. The uneasy guitars buried in “The Last of Goodbyes” add an ominous tinge that bears fruit when locomotive drums crash land; the rolling pianos of “The Ceremony of Innocence” provide stability even as dramatic string flourishes rise up.
Moby’s brittle muttering suggests the internal monologue of an end-of-days survivor, providing a downcast contrast to the more honeyed approach of his guest vocalists. The velvety coo of frequent collaborator Mindy Jones snakes through the record, adding to the lost-in-space feel of “The Tired and the Hurt” and serving as a Greek chorus to Moby’s regretful, trembling recollections on the woozy “The Waste of Suns.” The breathy alto of Raquel Rodriguez gives absolution to Moby on the biting “Like a Motherless Child,” the bassline of which evokes a bad-vibes flip of Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.”
Everything closes with “A Dark Cloud Is Coming,” a trip-hop/blues hybrid that blooms and decays with the speed of stop-motion-photography. Against that backdrop, smoldering singer Apollo Jane dares a deity to come for her as strings swell and guitar filigrees close in—and then they recede, allowing Jane to gently hum the song’s elegiac melody as if it’s a meditation. It’s an appropriately mournful ending for this sympathetic examination of the world’s wounds.