It's possible that after a few months and a jar of cough syrup, My Morning Jacket's Circuital--in stores May 31--is neither vintage MMJ, nor going to be remembered as any kind of musical triumph. As was teased with the album's first single, "Holdin' on to Black Metal," Jim James and co. are wandering into fresh terrain here, and it's not going to satisfy fans ravenous for another It Still Moves or Z. And judging from a few early listenings this morning, it's not going to please fans with patience for the band's experimentation.
They tried something here--maybe driven by ego, pretension, whatever--and, so far it's not catching. But at this point, isn't that better than the alternative? Wouldn't it be better for the band to try something else and fail in the process than to stick to what works? (Listen for yourself: It's streaming on NPR Music.)
I got to a point recently where I started to appreciate Chris Cornell's Scream, his disastrous collaboration with pop producer Timbaland. Regardless of his motivations--more fame, more money, more fans--he tried something COMPLETELY OFF THE WALL. It didn't work. He knew that was a distinct possibility, and he tried it anyway. Oh, well. Look, now he's back doing what every Cornell fan loves: Soundgarden.
You can always go home, life is long, and it's nice to see bands like MMJ try--with the distinct possibility of failure--from time to time.