Despite a title like "Evil Urges," My Morning Jacket's latest album has had a virtuous run so far.
Besides overwhelming critical raves, the Louisville quintet's fifth studio album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 chart, 58 points better than the peak of its 2005 predecessor, "Z" (a live album came out in the interim). But MMJ frontman Jim James says he prefers other measures of success.
"We just put out what we want to when it comes to the music," says James, 30 (real name James Olliges, Jr.), who co-founded MMJ in 1998, naming the group after letters embroidered on a coat he once owned. "We're always in this euphoric state whenever we make a record. Every record we make is our favorite one at the time. Then you look back and see the mistakes you made and find things you thought were really good that don't seem that way anymore...
"So maybe three years down the road I'll hate this record and people will look back on it as the one My Morning Jacket record you don't want to listen to. Or maybe it will be the greatest record we ever made. I just know that right now we made something we really like, and we're happy it's out there."
James does feel that "Evil Urges" is "the most varied record we've ever made," and that holds up over a batch of songs that range from dynamic hard rockers to ambient tone poems, old school soul, country vibes and even a falsetto-sung funk track, "Highly Suspicious," that's received a considerable amount of attention. It's full of left turns and curve balls, which James says can be both a blessing and a curse.
"All our records have been a little different," James notes. "I've experienced everything possible of people loving them or hating them. There are always people who have hated the new record at the time because it wasn't like the one before it. There's people who love it when we rock more and people who hate it when we rock more, people who love our folk side and hate our folk side...
"And, y'know, it's never a conscious decision as much as just kind of what pops out. That's what happened on ('Evil Urges') and on everything we've put out before it. So we go with it, and...if we like it we put it out and hope everyone else feels the same way. It's not real scientific."
My Morning Jacket performs at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 4) at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets are $33.50. Call (313) 961-5450 or visit www.livenation.com.
Send your thoughts and comments to