Music News & Reviews

Album review: Beck


Modern Guilt

There's a point near the end of Chemtrails when elaborate drum fills are exploding like fireworks on the Fourth of July, cymbals are joyously crashing, guitars are raging and all Beck can do is moan over it all like a mopey Brian Wilson with a toothache.

That pretty much sums up the method of operation on Beck's new album Modern Guilt . Danger Mouse provides the interesting musical backdrops, and Beck provides the misery. As a package, Modern Guilt is at least more sonically interesting than Beck's last bummer album, Sea Change, but the sense of missed opportunities here start to annoy pretty quickly.

The sinewy dance track Youthless, for example, is in the same deep-groove family as Gnarls Barkley's breakthrough hit Crazy, but Danger Mouse would have been better off saving the track for Cee-Lo. Instead of matching the mood with some entertaining lyrics, Beck takes the existential route, going on about ”holding nothing“ in a monotone.

”Hey, what are you gonna do when those walls are falling down?“ he asks in Walls, squandering an interesting dance beat on that sad-sack chorus and such observations as ”You got warheads stacked in the kitchen.“

Clearly, Beck succeeded in pairing dance beats with dirges throughout Modern Guilt“ giving his angst a contemporary twist. But his stubborn artistic victory turns out to be a loss for fans looking for remnants of the imagination he showed throughout 2006's The Information.