Even more than the gospel and blues vocals it sampled or the hundreds of advertisements its songs ended up in, what stood out about Moby’s breakthrough 1999 album Play was how settled-in it sounded. Moby’s earlier albums for Elektra leaped manically between styles, but while Play ranged wide, it also signaled a comfort with life that Moby simply didn’t have before. But in music, maturity often cools into boredom sooner or later, and that’s been especially true of Moby’s work over the past decade. Destroyed, like most of its predecessors (not counting remix albums and side efforts, such as his occasional work as Voodoo Child), is long, ruminative, and stitched together from a handful of Moby’s comfort-zone styles: aquatic downtempo (“The Broken Places,” “Rockets”), Bowie-tinged singer-songwriter moves (“The Day”), droning guitar songs (“Be The One”), slinky soul (“The Right Thing,” a blaxploitation-style slow jam featuring Moby’s frequent touring vocalist Inyang Bassey), and rolling, orchestral ambient (“The Violent Bear It Away,” which would fit on just about any Moby album).
Destroyed is slower than 2008’s bright, clubby throwback Last Night and livelier than 2009’s oft-despondent Wait For Me, but it’s more like the latter, if only because none of the hooks stick. When they do, it’s in a bad way—the tinny Vocoder of “Be The One” and “After” is pretty annoying, though the latter builds nicely, thanks to slicing strings and breakbeat. The album gets more interesting in the back half, thanks to the soft-focus piano house of “Victoria Lucas” (named after a Sylvia Plath pseudonym) and “Lie Down In Darkness,” which sounds like it could’ve been on Play, if only it were a little more interesting.