My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James claims that the overall theme of Evil Urges, his band's fifth album, is one of moral confusion. But after a few listens, the most mystifying thing about the record is its vast sonic landscape. The 14-track masterpiece throws listeners for a loop, cramming in everything from glam-rock power chords to stripped-down twang to blippy electronic samples. But it's the cosmic assortment of sounds that gives Evil Urges the sensation of an unharnessed roller-coaster ride. And you won't even mind the long wait — it's been three years since the equally expansive Z — because it quickly proves to be the highest, most infectious thrill the band has ever made.
In "Highly Suspicious," James breaks into both Prince-like falsetto howls and fits of laughter, coming off like Winnie the Pooh on a bad honey trip. The Kentucky quintet then heads in the opposite direction for "Librarian," a gently orchestrated ode to a sexy book gal hiding behind her glasses, while the eight-minute centerpiece, "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2," is fueled by otherworldly electro-beeps that sound like aliens frolicking in a room full of old-school video games. With so much going on, it takes some time for Evil Urges to totally sink in. So get back in line and ride again.