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Moby's a smart guy. He's also a guy who learns from his mistakes. Take that 1995-'96 fiasco: After releasing one of the finest electronic albums known to man (his debut, Everything Is Wrong), he immediately followed it with a bumbling "punk" record, Animal Rights, in which he stepped out from behind his protective wall of studio gadgetry and sang, played guitar, and generally acted like a rock star.

Play, released three years ago, was a suburban hipster hit -- thanks, in no small part, to its relentless, um, play in just about every TV commercial made at the turn of the century. And because Moby went back to his (electronic) and the country's (blues) roots. Plus, there was that super single remix/duet with Gwen Stefani.

18 is more R&B-based than Play, but the formula's the same: long-lost scratchy samples layered atop ethereal sounds from the netherworld (best is "Another Woman"). A guest shot or two (Sinéad O'Connor's is most effective). And a killer opening track (in this case, the lead single -- "We Are All Made of Stars" -- which musically and thematically ties itself to David Bowie's "Heroes"). It's a sequel, basically, that begs: Just push Play.

More by Michael Gallucci

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