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Album Review: The Waterfall II by My Morning Jacket

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My Morning Jacket is an indie rock band from Kentucky. With a career stretching since 1998, The Waterfall II marks their eighth studio album. This is their first album in nearly five years and the follow up to The Waterfall. Even though it's been five years since The Waterfall, all the tracks from The Waterfall II were recorded around 2013-2014.

The first track from the album is Spinning My Wheels. It starts off with some quiet, amp static in the background. After that passes, a piano and soft, melodic vocals come in. Although it's a quiet start to the album, it's a catchy and laid back track. The wall of vocals during the chorus definitely adds to the laid back and almost psychedelic feeling. The track ends with the same sound effect that introduced us to the album.

Still Thinkin is a little bit faster in pace compared to the previous track. You have a single guitar coming in to introduce us to the track. Despite the vocals sounding a bit different, they have some country-infused guitar sounds that are sprinkled throughout the track. Towards the last minute of the track, it suddenly shifts to a more jazz-rock sound, which is totally unexpected. However, the transition is so smooth that it blends well. During the track, he talks about how he thinks he could make this relationship work with some person.

Climbing The Ladder has a very energetic feeling to it with the ecstatic guitar lines opening up the track. Throughout you can hear a bass riding through the offbeats adding to the main structure of the track. About a minute left of the track, the track suddenly slows down to nearly half of its original tempo. Then the track eventually speeds back up to its normal tempo. On this track, he mentions that he just wants to get back to this person, but he's still searching for her.

Feel You brings us back to the slow, melodic piano and vocals, just like in the first track. This is also the longest track on the album, just over six minutes in length. While I didn't have high hopes going into this track, it ended up having a lot of high points. Jim's vocal high range definitely shines through, as well as the instrumental breaks that are sprinkled in here, especially the last two closing minutes. I still catch myself coming back to this track with how beautiful they were able to make it sound.

Beautiful Love (Wasn't Enough) opens up with a piano, laced in a reverbed like effect. It's also the shortest track from the album, just under three minutes in length. When coming from the previous track, I was a bit let down by this track with the sudden change of tone and the minimalistic approach. You come from a long and drawn out track to a track with very short and stiff notes. Jim talks about how his love life is confusing and doesn't know why his heart is unforgiving of others.

Magic Bullet slowly fades in with its drums and synths. After it fully fades in, it just suddenly changes in tempo and direction of the track. It turns into a more funk-based groove which ends up working pretty well for the track. The one thing that I don't really like is that they carried out the bass and synth groove for too long before they added more into the mix. Eventually, later in the track, you have a guitar and saxophone added to the mix.

Run It is another piano-heavy track. There isn't too much going on in this track instrumentally and it mainly focuses on the vocal aspect. Honestly, the track just drags on for too long, so I'm not exactly sure what they were trying to go for on this track. Towards the end of the track, he talks about trying to get back to water, as well as setting his mind free.

Wasted brings us back to more guitar-focused music. This is also the second track from the album that is over six minutes in length. It keeps up with a guitar arpeggio line that is repeated for the first part of the track. After the two minute mark of the track, you find out that this is another track that switches up the beat. The brass section that comes in mixes really well with the pounding wall of guitars. During the last minute of the track, it goes to an all out type mentality with the pure energy and rawness.

Switching to Welcome Home was a huge change in nature. It's a quiet acoustic track that was a complete 180 from Wasted. Some of the backing guitars seemed to be a bit too polished over and clear cut. This definitely feels like it would be a holiday song, especially for Christmas. Welcoming home someone, such as a family member that you haven't seen for some time.

The last track from the album is The First Time. We finally come back to the glitzy guitars with the high pitched vocals. This is another track that feels like a jam session, except very calm and peaceful in nature. The only complaint I have from this track is how some instruments just have their sound amplified by a lot once the vocals go out. I was expecting a more energetic ending from the album, but I'm not disappointed by the soft and quiet ending.

Overall Rating: 8/10
Favorite Tracks: Spinning My Wheels, Still Thinkin, Climbing The Ladder, Feel You, Wasted

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