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Film, Album, Single and Event Reviews

Album Review: Beck - Morning Phase

  • By david
  • 11 Feb 2014
"Morning Phase" by Beck has been reviewed. Here's what we think of it

Beck- Morning Phase

Released Feb 24th 2014

Review by Connor Lundy

It has been six long years since everyone’s favourite scientologist’s last album, the moderately well-received "Modern Guilt" came out. There is no doubt "Morning Phase"  is a return to form.

Much has been made of it being a companion piece to "Sea Change" and there is certainly no doubting that; a number of tracks on the album feel like they could have been directly torn from the "Sea Change" sessions, most notably the second track ‘Morning’. ‘Morning’ bares an uncanny resemblance to ‘The Golden Age’, although the former acts as an optimistic counterpoint when compared to the crushing hopelessness of the latter.

"Sea Change" was heavily indebted to Melody Nelson era Serge and the melancholic Nick Drake, but these have been mostly been done away with or at the very least the prominence is less apparent. Instead Morning Phase, at times, appears to resemble "Harvest" era Neil Young, with the harmonica break on ‘Say Goodbye’ proving to be particularly evocative. 

This is an album of great songs but not an album of great singles, it demands to be listened to as a whole, much as Lou Reed said of his New York record, in that it should be treated as if it were a book or movie. With that in mind, there is however a number of standout tracks including the first single ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Say Goodbye’ and ‘Blackbird Chain’ with the last of the three perhaps being the most capable of standing alone.

Lyrically, this album is standard Beck fare in that some of the lyrics, ‘Blue Moon’ in particular often come across as something that could have been written by an A Level English student. Although this was sometimes the case on ‘Sea Change’ and it does not majorly detract from the album as a whole, where the beautiful orchestration is often at the forefront.

You could not really say there is a weak track on the album as each builds upon the overall mood, but if forced to pick one Wave lives least long in the memory. It is a pretty song that fits the album but taken in isolation it does not impress particularly.

As a companion piece to "Sea Change" this album works well and provides some light when contrasted with the melancholy of the aforementioned. They are both incredibly bittersweet albums but where "Sea Change" felt like an end "Morning Phase" feels like a beginning. This feels like an album that will only grow stronger with repeated listens as you pick up on each nuance.

8.5/10

Standout Tracks;

Blackbird Chain

Say Goodbye

Blue Moon

Heart is a drum

Weaker tracks;

Wave

 


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