My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Life is a circle. You tend to do the same mistakes you’ve swore you’ve never do again. You meet again and again with the same situations and even if you think the previous experiences have taught you the way forward, there are little variations that pull the rug under you, making you change your perspective on life, the universe and everything.

The first track from this album that made its way into my heart was ‘Victory dance’. It was a strange September morning in the city of Chester, walking with my parents over the Roman Walls. It’s a strange clash, seeing something as old as Roman Architecture clashing with modern life. It gives a sense of history but also makes you realise that you are only a tiny speck on this world.

Circuital beckoned again and again. ‘Victory dance’, a celebration of life, a realisation of the little things in life, the fireworks you see from an airplane in the dead of night, tiny green ferns in the black Mexican sky before you arrive home for the holiday break with your loved ones.

‘Circuital’, a homespun, happy song about celebrating the cycles in our life. It starts slow but in true My Morning Jacket tradition, it explodes. ‘Outta of my system’ is like those moments when you realise all those embarrassing mistakes you’ve committed in your life are what define you as a person. Half-lamentation, half-celebration, the track is one of the many standouts.

Jim James’ voice is fantastic as always. The experimentation deftly made on Evil Urges yielded a fantastic track called ‘Holding on to black metal’, a jammy song that uses a chorus the proper way and even does a bit of a coda to drive the point home.

The spirit of 70s radio music, the type that inspired many a fleeting love or memorable road trip, is here, peppered through many of the tracks that use the era’s dream-like atmosphere (see Bread, Gary Wright, America) is present in Circuital. ‘The Day is coming’ makes me think of the good ol’ days growing up in Tula, where the arid, unforgivable desert that surrounded the city was the backdrop to many a fantastic car drive. ‘Slow slow tune’ makes me think of those gone-by days in the playground of the city’s suburb, playing with friends who you will never see again in your life. ‘Movin’ away’? The day we left Tula for scary Mexico City. 

If it sounds like Circuital unearthed a lot of old memories while still addressing several current emotions, yup, that’s why it’s on my “Top of 2011” list. One song in particular, the one song that kept me calm before a trasatlantic flight, felt like an ironic celebration. A difficult break-up has now been intertwined in my head with ‘Wonderful (the way I feel)’. Memories of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the start and the end. The realisation that the decision of never communicating with each other again was taken is so demoralising and soul-wrenching that a song so passionate and happy felt just right. Call it counter-programming to the black clouds in my head, call it false-optimism, it’s a song that comes from the heart and the only place it will find shelter will be in another heart.

Circuital is in my top ten albums of 2011, tied up with The Ravenna Colt‘s Slight Spell. It might not be the “in” thing for the usual industry lists, but it’s an album that stroke a chord, it left a bittersweet aftertaste of emotions that to this day I’m still trying to understand. It’s funny how an album can touch you so spot on and how it can guide you through the darkest of moments, but My Morning Jacket delivered it. For that, thanks.

Words: Sam J. Valdés López

My Morning Jacket Website. Myspace. Last.fm. Twitter. Facebook. Soundcloud.

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