Beck
Morning Phase


3.5
great

Review

by Dan H. CONTRIBUTOR (55 Reviews)
February 18th, 2014 | 41 replies


Release Date: 02/25/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Cruising in nostalgia country.

It’s difficult to decide which of these scenarios is more daunting – not knowing whether you’re capable of achieving something, or realising that you've got nothing left to prove or accomplish. Musical chameleon Beck Hansen finds himself firmly rooted in the latter category, now over twenty years since his debut release Golden Feelings. No matter which side of the hypothetical fence you fall on, it’s undeniable that Hansen’s situation is the more enviable; after all, few artists can claim to have discovered and explored all of their musical fancies, and even fewer to such an acclaimed standard.

Arriving at this sonic impasse, what better way to spend the rest of your days than to embrace nostalgia, and to reverse back along that musical highway to revisit your proudest, most successful moments? Morning Phase drives right into the heart of Sea Change country, arguably Beck’s finest and most emotive release. 2002’s melancholic masterpiece was fuelled by heartbreak and was as mournful as it was beautiful, and a return to this sound may be embraced even more warmly than the second coming of Odelay - though bless Guero’s little heart, it tried.

The soft, calming acoustic guitars, the wandering, often understated strings, and the unashamedly sombre tone which Beck adopted on Sea Change are all present here, and even without the most potent ingredient heartbreak, Morning Phase conjures that same relatability, and that same unexplainably fuzzy feeling inside that everything might just be alright after all.

When Hansen croons “but don’t leave me on my own/you left me standing all alone” on lead single “Blue Moon,” a subtle fragility is exposed which hints that old heartbreaks do indeed die hard. This downbeat and lonely perception is only heightened by the cheerless “Wave,” where an effects-laden Hansen drearily repeats the word “isolation” until the song’s end. The lyrical content sees Beck at his most transparent, and there’s more than just a suggestion here that the anger of abandonment he experienced twelve years ago now manifests itself in the fear of rejection instead.

But this isn’t just an emotional train wreck, now where’s that ray of sunshine I hinted at earlier? The various strings utilised throughout, the keys and even a subtle xylophone all combine brilliantly to calmly wash over you like an orchestral shower. Just focus on the banjo which shines intermittently on “Say Goodbye,” the understated xylophone on the optimistic “Morning,” or the powerful strings which take the reins on the instrumentals; opener “Cycle” and the more subdued “Phase.” They fade in and out of the foreground before rising to prevalence, providing just the right amount of hope that a finely balanced album like Morning Phase needs to succeed. This efficacious instrumentation affords the album a hugely personal feel, and the delicate nature of their placement shows that this really is an album designed to be digested in its entirety.

Although there’s seemingly little left for Beck to achieve by this stage in his career, the fact is, it has forced him to retread old ground, ground which fans of his finest works have been hoping he’d revisit for some time. In this regard, Morning Phase is a wonderfully forced triumph which Beck has been coerced into crafting by virtue of sheer accomplishment. So fasten your seat belt, take in the sights of yesteryear, and let the past wash right over you - you might just enjoy it as much as you did the first time round.



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user ratings (182)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Bradley Harris (2.5)
Beck delivers a disappointing album that offers no connection...

Nathan Taft (3.5)
Beck rehashes rather than reinvents. The results are satisfying at times, tedious at others....

Rudy K. STAFF (3)
We're fast asleep it's morning....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


1051 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album now streaming - but it's been around weeks.


Digging: The Hotelier - Home, Like NoPlace Is There

LizaLowe
February 18th 2014


43 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nice review! very much agree with what you said.

LordePots
February 18th 2014


9282 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

will check this out if its one of his weird endeavours

if its sea change type alternative bullshit im out

Digging: Hiatus Kaiyote - By Fire

MisterTornado
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


4507 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Like the review, although throughout you suggest some understood knowledge that Beck has already
explored every sonic direction he set out for, which (despite being an opinion) is information I
don't think we can possibly know for sure. For example a statement like

"Although there’s seemingly little left for Beck to achieve by this stage in his career, the fact
is, it has forced him to retread old ground"

is a little unfair to make, because while this album certainly has the stylistic roots of Sea
Change, the production here sets it apart from that and other albums, so I can't imagine his
ambition in the past has forced him to sigh and limp through the rest of his career retreading old
ground. I wouldn't say he's "forced" to retread old ground, but rather he's doing so
unintentionally. Which says that his ambition has cursed him in a way, because as he continues to
develop new sounds further in his career, he incidentally digs up his past and people fault him for
that. Anyway, tons of potential in your writing. Keep up the good work ;)

LordePots
February 18th 2014


9282 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

has the stylistic roots of Sea Change


cool thanks, passing on this

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


1051 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I disagree that what I said has negative connotations Tornado, but I can see how it might read that
way, I did try to paint it as a positive that he's revisiting old sounds.

On the other point - with both Guero and this he's going for very similar sounds to his previous work,
which is in no way a bad thing. I mean its possible he could come out with something really out of the
blue stylistically, but at this stage I can't really see that happening. I take your point though, we
don't know that for sure.

RadicalEd
February 18th 2014


2847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Stoked to check this out.

Digging: ODESZA - In Return

TheBarber
February 18th 2014


2188 Comments


Dude's plain cool, might check this out

Digging: Ulver - Trolsk Sortmetall 1993-1997

TheBarber
February 18th 2014


2188 Comments


K gave this a first and even though a few feels get repetitive (especially during the middle) album's pretty great (closer is beautiful too!). Good review, take an imaginary pos!

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


16131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

finding this a bit dull, a pity he he felt like revisiting sea change style

Pheromone
February 18th 2014


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

Not good

Digging: Jeremy Enigk - Return of the Frog Queen

RadicalEd
February 18th 2014


2847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I really doubt that Beck is able to release an album that is worse than Uno! by Green day...

Pheromone
February 18th 2014


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

I'll go about bumping that down I think. Uno! did have some fun chops mixed in granted.

RadicalEd
February 18th 2014


2847 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Waking Light and Blue Moon are pretty good though. Have not heard the rest of it yet. Also Uno! is
only fun if you're a masochist.

Pheromone
February 18th 2014


3862 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5 | Sound Off

haha could be that.
Turn away is a good track on this one, the rest is pretty awful to me.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


16131 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

gave up the stream halfway through due to comatose state
nice review tho

Weirman
February 18th 2014


203 Comments


Uno! did have some fun chops mixed in granted


only fun i had was turning it offffff

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
February 18th 2014


6567 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Certainly not a bad album, but it felt a bit dry and lackluster to me.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

SharkTooth
February 18th 2014


6510 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Beck released a new album?
MUST GET!

Digging: Boylan - ima rockstar im not a rockstar

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
February 18th 2014


13454 Comments


uno is underrated



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