Highlights: Blue Moon, Unforgiven, Don’t Let It Go, Turn Away
Not to let a weak pun slip by: this may be Beck’s Morning Phase, but this is perfect insomnia music. Essentially, Sea Changes vol.2, which means you will either see this as a dull exercise in tasteful tedium or Beck’s latest songwriting triumph.
I’m a Midnite Vultures sort of person, so I have to be in the former category. Beck is good when he is bold and adventurous, when he is foul-mouthed, sloppy and bad taste. Even when the edges are only a little rough (Modern Guilt), he still manages to come off interesting. It’s not that I don’t want him to grow up and mature – I just want him to retain that edge.
On first listen, this is just bland. It’s only later that it becomes clear that Morning Phase is a genuinely good album, with strong blurry tunes and hazy vocal hooks that reveal themselves with time. This is languid, lazy acoustic music that is so solemn and homogeneous (monotonous) that I don’t feel like highlighting anything. “Blue Moon” is probably the best; it features a hypnotic melody and a wistful vibe which manages to be both depressing and optimistic. So typical of the whole album. Also, I’m certain he steals the brilliant vocal hook of “Turn Away” from some 60’s song, but I can’t quite remember what that song is.
A decidedly straight-faced, intentionally humourless affair. If you tell me this is when Beck can show-off his songwriting abilities to the fullest, I won’t believe you. But it’s been 6 years, so it’s nice to have him back. This is a low 7, mind.