Beck has tales of mourning on ‘Morning Phase’

Beck is well-known for his stylistic shifts from album to album; the junky, sampled alt-pop of Mellow Gold and Odelay, the sparse electricity of The Information, the singer/songwriter sadness of Sea Change.

On Morning Phase – Beck’s first album since 2008’s Modern Guilt, a collaboration between himself and Danger Mouse that resulted in a surprisingly boring product – Beck has settled on an easygoing soundscape of strummed acoustics and lyrics telling tales of mourning.

“Morning,” the appropriately-titled first song, is a light take on disappointment: finding “roses full of thorns” and searching for “the way it used to be.”

“Blackbird Chain” is full of never-changing echo, while “Turn Away” has Simon and Garfunkel-esque close harmonies.

“Say Goodbye” is the album’s best song, a gently plucked ode to moving on that’s reminiscent of Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend.”  “Country Down” is much the same way, featuring some of Beck’s best wordplay, such as “the hills roll out like centuries” and “there’s no frame around your picture / just a view from my back door.”

With a little luck, we won’t have to wait six years for Beck’s next album, as Morning Phase in its entirety is one of the best albums of 2014 and Beck’s best since Guero.

4.5 out of 5

Author: Ryan King

Ryan King began covering music in 2004 for the Arrow, the student newspaper at Southeast Missouri State University, eventually becoming Managing Editor at that publication. He is also the former Music Editor for OFF! Magazine, an alternative publication published by the Southeast Missourian. Ryan began writing for The Music Universe when launched, but has stepped away to focus on law. He may appear from time to time for reviews.