Welcome back Beck, you’ve been missed dearly. After 6 years, only a handful of singles and one album’s worth of sheet music, Beck returns with a full album of new recorded material, titled ‘Morning Phase.’ In press leading up to the release he’s promised it’s a return to the ‘Sea Change’ style of melancholy songs. It’s a good thing he said this, or else listeners might accuse him of some strange form of audio time travel with this new album.
Now I’m usually known for incredibly long, detailed reviews of albums that look at it from a really granular level. But let’s try to keep it simple and to the point: if you loved ‘Sea Change,’ you’ll really enjoy this album and if you didn’t and just want the fun of ‘Odelay’ or ‘Guero,’ keep waiting, because you probably won’t enjoy this one.
The sound of it is so similar to ‘Sea Change’ in fact, the some of the same background noises and song ambiance can be heard in many of the songs and you can practically sing “Golden Age” over the top of “Morning.” It’s almost head-scratching that an artist as wildly diverse as Beck could release something with such a heavy sense of déjà vu. Even first single, “Blue Moon,” while a great song on its own, can’t help but conjure memories of that aforementioned past album.
Beck’s “Blue Moon”
Of course there are some songs that completely detour from this pattern and are arguably the best on the album. “Blackbird Chain” is still mellow but doesn’t feel reminiscent of any of his previous work and has a country feel to it. “Turn Away” is embodied with the spirit of Elliott Smith, and album closer “Waking Light” has a distinct Pink Floyd (circa Wish You Were Here) vibe, especially with the solo near the end.
Let’s be clear though. ‘Sea Change’ is absolutely worth loving as it is one of Beck’s best and most defining works. If you have the opportunity to purchase/hear the Mobile Fidelity vinyl pressing of it, run, don’t walk to do so. But this also means it has incredibly high expectations to live up to. So does ‘Morning Phase’ live up to ‘Sea Change?’ Certainly not. But is this still better than ‘Modern Guilt’ and a fantastic album full of mellow tracks perfect for nursing Sunday morning hangovers or early morning drives? Absolutely!
Written By Jarad Matula
OurVinyl | Senior Writer