Album Review

Morning Phase

Morning Phase

by Beck


Universal
8.5 / 10
27th February 2014

Reviewed by Paul Larsen


If 2005’s Guero was the bastard child of Beck’s seminal classic Odelay, then you’d be hard pressed not to admit that Beck’s newest offering Morning Phase isn’t the direct descendent of 2003’s Sea Change. But while it’s almost too easy to highlight the cyclic nature of Beck’s career, the question remains; is the reclusive songwriter simply rehashing or genuinely reinventing?

Where the despondency of Sea Change could be attributed to the breakup of a nine year relationship, the downhearted yet affecting tunes that make up Morning Phase feel more like the after effects of an intense summer romance extinguished all too abruptly. Regardless, the end result of both records is similar, yet not quite the same. One has clearly influenced the other but Morning Phase feels more ambitious and yet somehow more intimate.

Above all else, Morning Phase is a disarmingly beautiful record. At its core is a series of orchestral pieces such as the brief opener ‘Cycle’ which serve to not only pull the album together as a complete piece but also draw out the cinematic intimacy of the more intensely personal songs such as the lump-in-throat inducing ‘Don’t Let It Go’ and 'Wave'.

Morning Phase is a fine example of a melancholic record that never falls completely into the bleak abyss, keeping the listener affected but also invested. Although fans of Beck's Guero

and Odelay alter ego will be hoping the man himself stumbles across happier times sometime soon, it’s deeply reassuring to know he’s still capable of turning his wild demons into classic beauty.

 




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