What the hell is a Peanut Butter Pudding Surprise? And where can I get some? Seriously. When Jim James mumbles in the highest falsetto since Prince, you can't help but want to be on whatever he's consuming. As he screeches "I'm High" and the rest of the band chimes in "Highly Suspicious" with a commanding military baritone, you can't help but get the image of some sort of crazy weed party where everyone is too stoned to even realize what's going on.
I bet these guys had a blast recording this record.
How else could the lyrics "peanut butter pudding surprise" actually make it into a song? Or better yet, how else could My Morning Jacket, known for their own brand of freaked-out-stoner-southern-rock, suddenly become some sort of warped R&B/Funk band?
Evil Urges sees My Morning Jacket continuing along the same path as their previous album, Z. The formula that MMJ has always used is all here: everything soaked in reverb creating a spaced out Americana vibe as if The Flaming Lips and The Band suddenly became one (maybe Jim James is actually the love child of Wayne Coyne and Levon Helm).
From the very moment the opening and title track kicks in, you can tell that this album is slightly different from past endeavors; it has the sound of a band that is hitting its stride. Meandering through fourteen tracks of space rock ("Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part One"), funk ("Evil Urges," "Highly Suspicious"), and straightforward rock ("I'm Amazed," "Thank You Too," "Two Halves"), Jim James and company has created their most accessible and strangest record at the same time. They even include an ode to sexy librarians everywhere ("Librarian"). While the sound is crisper than previous recordings, it's still dirty enough to have that down-home recording style that has been apart of the group from the beginning.
Despite the title, Evil Urges is an album about the state of the world; about how we relate to one another and our surrounding environment. Like previous My Morning Jacket albums, Evil Urges creates an atmosphere that flows from start to finish. In this instance the tone is to question everything. In the world of MMJ there is no wrong or right; no good or evil. Sure it's some hippie babble, but is it really far off from the truth? When Jim James proclaims his amazement by all things in the world you can't help but agree with him. I am amazed at what people say. I am amazed by a quiet ocean. I'm amazed by what is happening in the world as we speak.
While by no means a political band, My Morning Jacket has long crafted songs that aim to point out how we relate to one another. When Jim James sings in the magnificent closing track, "Touch Me I'm Going to Scream Part 2," "Cause it's been so long since someone challenged me / And made me think about the way things are, made me think about the way they could be," it's a call out to the world to question and challenge both what you see around you and what you see within yourself. When was the last time your beliefs were actually challenged? Evil Urges raises these personal questions in everyone and puts everyone on the stand.
Of course it helps to have some peanut butter pudding surprise before the cross-examination occurs.