Like I said above, nearly all the reviews I've read for Modern Guilt have praised it as a return to form, "best since Sea Change", and that sort of garbage. Lazy, lazy journalism, particularly considering I read the exact same things about previous two albums (and bona fide clinkers) Guero and The Information. Where Modern Guilt outshines those albums is in its length, as both were at least twice as long as the half-hour Modern Guilt. That, and the music.
Which is fantastic. For reasons I don't understand, this Beck album took me the longest to get into. Well, of the ones I like. The less said about the boring Mellow Gold and the HIDEOUS Midnite Vultures the better. I was initially put off by how minimalist the album sounds. After about three listens, I was completely and utterly dependent on it. I couldn't do without it. Still can't. Strange that, isn't it? I think the reason for it is that I like the songs, or something.
Seriously though, the songs are fantastic. From the opener "Orphans" to closer "Volcano", there's not a duff moment on here. Plus, not one of the songs outstays its welcome. Once the verses, choruses and bridges have had their moment, its onto the next one. "Gamma Ray" is about the funnest song of the summer so far, "Chemtrails" has some incredible drumming and eerie vocals, "Modern Guilt" is relentlessly catchy, "Youthless" and "Replica" sound like Guero culls, "Walls" could pass for a Gnarls Barkley song (thanks Danger Mouse), "Soul of a Man" is sleazy as anything, "Profanity Prayers" is a super-happy bass fest and "Volcano" is perfect. The songs are as sparse as the artwork, but Beck doesn't need to layer his songs full of washboard solos and Schubert to be great. Modern Guilt's your proof.