MICHELE NORRIS, host:

The Kentucky-based band My Morning Jacket is known for its eclectic approach to rock music. They incorporate elements of reggae, funk, heavy metal and country into their sound.

Critic Tom Moon says the band's new album, "Circuital," finds them experimenting less but finding their voice in the process.

TOM MOON: There's a new My Morning Jacket song that'll probably make aging rockers smile. It's called "Outta My System."

(Soundbite of song, "Outta My System")

MY MORNING JACKET (Music Group): (Singing) They told me not to smoke drugs, but I wouldn't listen, never thought I'd get caught and wind up in prison. Chalk it up to youth, (unintelligible). I guess I just had to get it out of my system, out of my system.

MOON: That's songwriter Jim James singing, with great Buddha warmth, about aging out of the Friday night indulgences of youth.

(Soundbite of song, "Outta My System")

MY MORNING JACKET: (Singing) Oh, no, and I'd never do it now. I know what I ain't missing, that I went and got it all out of my system.

MOON: In a sense, James has lately been doing something similar with his music. He's an adventurous composer, and on earlier albums he's taken fans down twisty roads far from his base, which is a mystical take on Southern rock.

The experiments have provided the band with interesting dimension, but they've also made for some uneven albums. Now, having gotten some of that wandering out of his system, he's focused his writing. Most of this album offers disarmingly graceful melodies framed by thundering rock chords.

(Soundbite of music)

MY MORNING JACKET: (Singing) Bang, bang, on the door. You open not knowing what for. (Unintelligible)

MOON: As James and My Morning Jacket winnowed down the influences, they thankfully didn't dilute the core attack. There's a purposeful energy running through these rousing, echoey epics.

Some early reviews have compared the songs to those on the classic "Who's Next" by The Who.

(Soundbite of music)

MY MORNING JACKET: (Singing) Should I close my eyes (unintelligible).

MOON: My Morning Jacket recorded the new album in a church gymnasium in Louisville, Kentucky. Producer Tucker Martine has said he wasn't interested in sonic perfection. He wanted the raw power the band gets in live performance.

So he recorded everything, including most of James' lead vocals, all at once. In the lifespan of most great rock bands, there's often a moment where the influences fade away and true originality emerges. It feels like that's what's happening with My Morning Jacket right now.

The new album might not be the best from top to bottom, but its peak moments have a streamlined and totally thrilling sound. Maybe it's like the song says: Sometimes a band really has to go and get its yayas out to discover who it really is.

(Soundbite of music)

NORRIS: Our critic is Tom Moon. He was reviewing the new album from My Morning Jacket called "Circuital." You can hear the entire album at npr.org.

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