There have been nine Moby records since Play, his inescapable 1999 trip-hop totem that soundtracked every single cafe, hotel and elevator on the planet for roughly 47 years.

I've heard exactly none of them. There just didn't seem to be any point. He's Moby; surely he's said everything he has to say? So I was ready to dismiss Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt, his 15th album, in exactly the same way.

There's a very good reason I was ready to skip it: the press release that arrived with the album declared: "When he's not recording music, Moby continues to champion animal rights and sustainability via his activism and vegan restaurant Little Pine."

Pretentious? For sure. That press release got my interest: just how pretentious could the record be? I couldn't help myself. I pressed - ahem - Play. And I was instantly surprised.


Sure, the album title's pretentious. So are the song titles. Names like The Sorrow Tree and The Middle is Gone and A Dark Cloud is Coming are super pretentious. Mate, you're not Marilyn Manson. You're also not Thom Yorke. Not even close.

And Moby still uses many of the similar templates that made Play work. Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt uses a blueprint of airy minimalist soundscapes, clipped trip-hop beats and his mopey Moby mumbles set against soothing female voices.

But, listened to as a whole, it's a frequently spooky experience, one that suggests Moby's been bingeing on Danish serial killer shows and has been deeply affected by the experience. Play this at 2am and you'll want to check you locked those doors properly.

It's also occasionally quite affecting: try The Tired and the Hurt, a morose, meandering ballad with a quite beautiful piano line, or Mere Anarchy, a brewing headache that could soundtrack an apocalypse. Then there's The Waste of Suns, which recalls the late, great 90s Kiwi group Strawpeople.

In short, it's not Play, and it's only occasionally pretentious. In 2018, that's about the best you can hope for from Moby.

Moby - Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt

Label: Mute
Verdict: No where near as pretentious as it could have been