This one grows on you, just like his first album. It stops short of reinventing the style but does a very good job not repeating O. For example, here we have electric guitars, more percussion, production that goes from very simple to often masterful in the same track. At first listen a song like Rootless Tree is a simple then offensive, but after a few listens Damien fans will hear the brilliance in it.
This isn't music manufactured to hook you in between radio ads. With music being the way much of it is today, I've found that I've "tuned my ears" to the templated song, waiting for the quick hook so I can absorb it, listening a few times then throw it away, but you can't do that with Damien's music and if you approach it that way you're likely to pass his work off as simple folk music. But if you listen trying to search for what he's trying to say, if you seach for the soul of the artist you'll find no mask on this album. 9 is a coherent work, it is a brilliant album every bit as good as O, if anything it has more variety than O. I think a lot of people will say, there's no Blowers Daughter or there's no Cannon ball on 9. I guess I don't understand those comments, because I always thought of those songs as just part of the sum of that album. I never thought they defined that album as a great album. 9 doesn't have a few stand out tracks , but it has a lot of brilliant moments spread out across the album.
One quick historical note. Track 3, "Elephant" was originally titled "The Blowers Daughter, Part II" and has been showing up in live sets for a long time now.