CD Reviews > Beck

Beck - Morning Phase
Capitol Records

What should you expect from one of the most unpredictable mainstream artist out there? Well, considering I wasn't even expecting a new album at all, I chose to clear my expectations and avoid disappointments. With Morning Phase that was a wise choice.

If you venture forth into this release, you will find a closer knowledge of this sometimes mysterious artist. It’s worth the journey, especially considering the length of Beck’s hiatus. Obviously, he had a statement to make. It feels that this release follows more of an artistic statement. Going this way might make this a lesser grossing release money-wise, but you get an idea of what expressing his soul is worth to Beck. Here is a breakdown of what I experienced, track by track…

01. “Cycle”. In introductory piece that goes by fast, but smooooth!

02. “Morning”. This is what Beck seems to have wanted to say. It’s mostly here, a song of sorrow; yet delivered in realistic truth. Like one of those “a-ha” moments after a troubled time, a lament for Halcyon?

03. “Heart is a Drum”. You can tell a lot by the third track of an album. Here we see this is all on purpose. Meticulous guitar work, studio perfection, extra instrumentation to fill the space. On the verge of cliché for just a moment, then pulled back to reveal the sincerity of the work. In some ways, this release is playing out like a David Gilmore solo release, not bad company to be in, even if it’s also completely different.

04. “Say Goodbye”. Showing his strength via diversity, here is a track more reminiscent of indie faves, The Beta Band. A smooth operator of a song, easy to grasp and rolls through your mind. “These are the words we use to say Goodbyyyyye”.

05. “Blue Moon”. A quick strip-down to a more acoustic base for this track, yet masterfully build back up and fully orchestrated. I might relate to this track the most!

06. “Unforgiven”. Here we have yet another unconventional song approach. The back beat suggests that there is no hurry, everything is being delivered right on some. “Somewhere unforgiven, time will wait for you.”

07. “Wave”. This track is mostly just Beck’s voice and a decent orchestral accompaniment. This song is like a dream or a memory.

08. “Don’t Let It Go”. I wasn’t certain I could handle any more, and this track actually starts off as if it knew that. I’m happy this emotionally-charged song is here, right where it should be. High compliment: almost as complete as a Paul McCartney composition. Wow!

09. “Blackbird Change”. Yes, more! It’s amazing. A little quicker on the pace, yet still no hurry. “I’ll never, never, never, never refuse you!”

10. “Phase”. I guess once the orchestra’s in the studio, you might as well let them do all they can!

11. “Turn Away”. Is it Peter, Paul, and Mary? Or Simon and Garfunkel? No, just another great Beck composition. Timeless in its complex simplicity.

12. “Country Down”. I don’t think Beck is going to go the way of Darius Rucker or any other rock to country cross-over artist, even though this song proves he could!

13. “Walking Light”. As if to prove he could do a thirteenth track without need of a break, “Waking Light” also seems to be really important within this albums theme. “When the morning comes to meet you, fill your eyes with waking light”. OK, Beck, then I’ll put my dark shades on and crank the industrial!

Sinead O’Conner famously said, “The only reason you make an album is if you might go crazy if you don’t”. Well Beck, thank you for making this instead of going crazy, there will be days that only this album can start!

~Alexavier S. Strangerz