Review Summary: Beck branches off from his usual ironic,quirky style and creates a heart wrenching masterpiece.
Beck is most famous for his use of an odd mixture of sounds, tossing hop hop beats out while a blues guitar solo flies by.
Until Sea Changes
cames out in 2002, Beck had only been commercially well know for his prankster-ish and ironic music, albums like Mellow Gold
showed Beck exploring his more folk side, but it failed to catch much of a back wind, falling flat both commercially and critically.
Apparently all it took for Beck to find his real folk "zone" was the breakup of him and a longtime girlfriend to spark a flood of melancholic songs.
In 2001,Beck released Midnite Vultures
, a mixture of his signature mish-mash of sounds dipped in funk, and fitting sexual lyrics.
Somewhere between "I want to defy/The logic of all sex laws" and the late Spring of 2002, Beck forgot all about sex laws and turned into a somber, seemingly downtrodden individual.
The opener on Sea Change
, "The Golden Age", is probably the most "happy" tune on the album, if one can really call it happy.
Opening with simple acoustic chords, beautiful slide guitar, and some faintly spacey keyboard work, the mood of the entire album is set from the first 30 seconds of the album.
"These day I barely get by
I dont even try"
Beck's father, David Campbell, contributes string arrangements to three of the albums tracks, including the second track, the sparse "Paper Tigers", which shows Beck's voice as much, much lower than one would think his voice would be, considering his seemingly eternal boyish looks.
The simple bass/drum backing, with the occasional guitar riff thrown in, is more of a bed for Beck's voice and the lush strings.
The lyrics on Sea Change
are often simpler than the frequently weird and "out there" lyrics on all of Beck's previous albums, but it seems as if when the music on an album is simpler, the lyrics often become less confusing as well. By simplifying the lyrics, the album becomes a much more personal experience, allowing the listener to more easily understand what Beck is trying his damnedest to make anyone who cares enough to listen to Sea Change
realize, that Beck is not angry, he is not bitter, nor is he resentful towards his former significant other, he is only wishing that there had been a way for him keep his relationship together.
is most assuredly what one would call a break up album, and while the music backing Beck's somber voice mostly correlates with that, the album seems to give off a sort of disconnected, but albeit still hopeful feel, almost as if a friend who is as sad as you are is with you, bemoaning a separate loss, but still holding you up as you hold them up.
While many of Beck's fans may bemoan the absence of the gleefully awkward samples and beats flying by each other, Sea Change
gives a feeling that you are in a room with Beck, and he is playing for you, almost as if to console you
over your loss, and that the album is something he wrote for you, not as a cathartic output of his own.
When it comes down to it,Sea Change
shows how skilled a musician and songwriter Beck really is, as it displays a completely different side of him from his normally abstract and what some would call crazy, style.
Even if you do miss the flippant, abstract sounds of Beck's most famous albums, this is still a powerful album put together by a man almost seemingly at ease of not having what he desires most.
By mixing together some of the most beautiful string arrangements I have ever heard with the most basic of band combinations, as well as Nigel Godrich's subtle production and ambient sounds, Beck has created a beautiful, reflective, and sometimes heart wrenching masterpiece.
Recommended Tracks-The Golden Age,Paper Tigers,Guess I'm Doin' Fine,End Of the Day,Sunday Sun,Side Of the Road