It is a joy like few others when an artist rediscovers himself after a long series of missteps. Many display remarkable creativity and spark, taking even the most pedestrian of sounds and making them brilliant.. until the muse inexplicably disappears. Then, just when you're about to give up hope that their genius will ever emerge again, it does. No, I'm not describing Moby's latest effort, but it would be unfair to say that it's not reasonably close.
Probably the most disheartening thing about every recent Moby album is his egregious lack of adventure. Let's be honest; he wasn't merely treading water with 18, it was a copy of Play, and Hotel was a copy of the copy. Then there was his "dance album" Last Night, which was about as danceable as the last Portishead record. Surely the man who produced Drop a Beat (a piece of acid house so blistering it makes Bodyrock look like a song from a commercia... oh wait) knows how to fill the dancefloor better than with bland songs donning misleading titles like I Love to Move In Here. It just didn't seem as though he was into it, and consequently the music suffered. Hell, even 18 had strong enough songs to make you not care that he was repeating himself. Regarding Wait for Me, he stated that "in making this record I wanted to focus on making something that I loved," and it does show; while it's not the downtempo masterpiece his hardcore fans have branded it as, there are definitely some outstanding moments.
The opening tracks suffer from the facelessness that often plague ambient albums; a person with just a passing knowledge of electronica wouldn't be outrageous in assuming Pale Horses was the new Zero 7 single. Thankfully, when the dirty intro of Shot In the Back of the Head becomes an undercurrent for the waves of warm synths and guitars that wash over, we know Moby's at the helm. Study War, however, is recognizable to a fault: blues sample looping over a piano and steady beat, with synths gradually layering until the female vocalist takes over... this would not at all be out of place on 18.
The first real reminder of Moby's brilliance as a producer comes with the permeating and throbbingly sorrowful Mistake, his lone vocal track. A Seated Night is a standout as well; it starts out with a somber choir sample and builds up in a fashion that recalls Everloving from Play in sound but more importantly in quality as well. Despite these truly amazing songs (including the beautiful longing of Hope Is Gone) , Wait for Me is clouded with good-but-forgettable ambient music.
This is not a bad album, far from it. At its worst, it's standard Chill-Out compilation fare, at its best it's achingly melancholic and gorgeous. As just another ambient album though, it's fantastic; and since Moby's made it clear that that's the kind of record he wants to create, he obviously hasn't lost it just yet.