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My Morning Jacket, ‘Outta My System’ – Song Review

'Outta My System'
ATO Records

Most bands tour to support new albums, but My Morning Jacket seem to have the opposite approach. They release new albums so they have an excuse to stay on the road. That’s not surprising — although considered an indie rock act, MMJ may have just as much in common with the jam band greats like the Grateful Dead and Phish — and as stellar as some of their studio releases have been, their real triumphs have been live.

Don’t believe us? Go ahead, just ask anybody who caught their four-hour set at Bonnaroo in 2008 or their equally memorable Madison Square Garden gig on New Year’s Eve later that year. But while the band continues to better their reputation in the live arena, they’ve also gotten much more adept at taking that energy and translating it in the studio. ‘Circuital,’ their sixth studio full-length which dropped last year, is further evidence of this transformation.

That said, the disc’s singles — from the latest, ‘Outta My System,’ all the way back to its first, ‘Holdin’ On to Black Metal’ — don’t live up to that new standard. Both of those are on the humorous side, but especially ‘System,’ with the opening couplet “Told me not to smoke drugs, but I wouldn’t listen / Never thought I’d get caught and wind up in prison” that comes across as either too serious or just plain cheesy on disc, where singer Jim James’ sometimes joker-ish vibe is basically muted. Without that side of the equation, MMJ could be easily dismissed as just another self-indulgent jam band.

Listen to My Morning Jacket, ‘Outta My System’

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6 out of 10 rating

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