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Morning Phase

Beck - 2014

This is the type of Beck music that I like the best. The introspective Beck. The moody Beck. The Beck that will cut himself open to show you what’s inside. Promoted as a companion album to 2002’s gorgeous “Sea Change”, 2014’s “Morning Phase” held a lot of promise. The album was partially recorded at Jack White’s Third Man Records Studio, and in 2012 Beck released two tracks as part of the Third Man “Blue Series”. (I’m a huge fan of many of those recordings) Those two tracks were heavy on country, clever, gritty, and funny. All of this makes “Morning Phase” an album that I couldn’t wait to hear. So why am I giving it 3 stars? First of all, 3 stars is a rating that I give to a decent album that I’ll listen to occasionally, so it’s not a bad rating. When you compare an album in any way to Sea Change though, a rating of 3 stars is a disappointment. It’s probably not possible to recapture what you had in an album that you truly love. The whole exercise sets the artist up for disappointment. First though, here’s the good stuff… I love when an artist makes a conscious effort to create a mood, and achieves it. Beck seeks to make an album that wakes up with you to a sunrise, and rubs the sleep out of your eyes. The tracks are almost all mid-tempo, the arrangements ease in and out, the echo on his voice is soft and comforting. Beck’s voice is highly untrained, but I think he’s underrated as a singer, particularly in this style. It’s a very “pleasant” album. And now for the bad stuff… It’s a very “pleasant” album. Two things that Sea Change had going for it were, A) Nigel Goodrich’s production and string arrangements, and B) Good Songs. First the production… As I said, I enjoy the production of Morning Phase to an extent. It makes good use of a sleepy, hazy, mood, but that haze lulls you into a bit of a daze. Nigel’s influence on Sea Change, more than anything, created string arrangements that pushed and pulled at the songs. They drove that album. Sea Change caught your ear and didn’t give it back until it was complete. Calling Morning Phase a companion album led me to believe I’d get that same level of emotion. It didn’t happen. The songs…. They’re nice. There’s a few good ones. Mostly all decent. Nothing new though. Nothing near the level of songs on it’s “companion”. In Beck’s defense, Sea Change was a breakup album, which almost always guarantees a crop of brilliant songs. Morning Phase has tracks written and recorded at different times, and in a very different place emotionally. The first song, “Morning” (2nd track, after the string intro), Is very obviously meant to mimic the first song on Sea Change, (The Golden Age). It makes a big statement by saying, “I’m bringing you back to that place”, but we never get there. We go somewhere similar, but less rewarding. I can list songs that I like from the album….”Blackbird Chain” is good….”Don’t Let It Go” is good. It’s not worth any more than that. It’s decent. Try it.

Posted by Tambe



Posted: 03/15/2014

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