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4.0 out of 5 stars Existential psychedelia
After two albums that saw Hansen subdue his chameleon tendencies in favour of pusuing a sound that was distinctly 'Beck', Modern Guilt sees him back breaking new ground. You suspect that some of the credit for that has to go to producer Danger Mouse, if only because the music here, a dark brew of electronica, 60s psychedelia and pop, bears more than a passing resemblance...
Published on 22 Aug. 2009 by J. Jenkins

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but no classic
'Modern Guilt' has the feeling of an 'in-between' album, although having said that, Beck's last truly great album was 'Sea Change' - 'The Information' and 'Guero' had moments of brilliance, but were incomparible to 'Midnite Vultures' or 'Odelay'.

I think the saddest thing about this album is that its hard to even pick one song that could have been a decent...
Published on 21 Aug. 2008 by A. Wright


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4.0 out of 5 stars Existential psychedelia, 22 Aug. 2009
By 
J. Jenkins (Dudley Port, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
After two albums that saw Hansen subdue his chameleon tendencies in favour of pusuing a sound that was distinctly 'Beck', Modern Guilt sees him back breaking new ground. You suspect that some of the credit for that has to go to producer Danger Mouse, if only because the music here, a dark brew of electronica, 60s psychedelia and pop, bears more than a passing resemblance to his own group Gnarls Barkley. It's a world away from his work on something like Sparklehorse's Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, where he seemed hands off to the point of invisibility.

Further new elements include Gamma Ray's surf guitars, Replica's drum 'n' bass meets Aphex Twin futurism, and Chemtrails squaling Neil Young-esque guitar solo. Youthless is probably the closest thing here to Beck's past, mixing hip-hop beats, lyrical non-sequiturs and a chorus catchier than swine flu.

While Guero and The Information saw Beck juxtaposing a bleaker, more jaded lyrical perspective with his traditional party anthems, Modern Guilt is an apocalyptic vision set to apocalyptic music. The mix of conspiracy theory, scientologist imagery, and more tangible concerns (global warming, nuclear war, existential angst) combine to form a nightmarish vision worthy of Philip K. Dick.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year, 26 Oct. 2008
By 
Rosey Lea (london, UK) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
Absolutely amazing album.

I originally bought it on download, but I've now bought the proper CD as compressed MP3 really doesn't do justice to all the layers and vibes going on.

Easily Beck's best album since the glorious Odelay. Definately his most accessible. Yes it is only half an hour long, but when you listen to it you don't feel short changed, it's half an hour beauty.

Innovative, wise and most of all you can dance to it.

Love it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck's Back!, 27 Feb. 2009
By 
Mr. T. Knott "sodablower" (Lincolnshire, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
I had loved Beck's earlier albums all the way until 'Sea Changes', as it was just naff (in my opinion, though i know others will disagree) and then he went toooo much into the hip-hop/techno/electro style and all his music started to sound the same. Which was a shame for an artist the caliber of Beck.
BUT....
......HE HAS RETURNED!
Modern Guilt is soooo much more like the old Beck i know and love. The songs are simple and there's more guitar involved. It's much more in the vein of Odelay than say...Midnight Vultures or Mutations - and it's great because of it!
If like me, you'd lost some faith in the music of Mr Hansen, then rejoice because although he's on a new label, this is VINTAGE Beck!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sea CHANGE, 13 July 2008
By 
Mr. J. Milton "jambo234" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
A quick glance at his watch and Beck's decided that it's time for a change. Out goes the quirkiness, the carelessness and the charm that swam about in 'The Information' and less recently, 'Guero'. In comes Danger Mouse with his surgery gear in hand, and they've got a record to make.

'Modern Guilt' is not quite the sudden jolt in movement or a shock to the system some have been hyping up. Beck's still the name, Beck's still the nature. We don't have a change in tactics equivalent to PJ Harvey's white dress, doom and gloom movement of 'White Chalk' - with the help of John Parish. Although when ears first came across 'Chemtrails', sinking in heartbreak and reverb, it was more than on the cards. 'Gamma Ray' is classic Beck and classic Danger Mouse, a simple bass riff moulded into a complex pop song due to the work of surrounding musicians. Soothing backing vocals (a regular attendee in the record) appear for the first time and it's about then that we realise the extent of Beck's "transformation".

Pop is very much on the agenda - 'Soul Of A Man' and the sharp and cutting title-track are simplistic, edgy and with a very, very modern edge. Brain Burton, who was only initially brought in to collaborate on one song, has inspired material reminiscent of Gnarls Barkley at their finest. Clocking in at thirty and a bit minutes, it's a futile task in attempting not to remember the jerky 'Youthless' or the bass-heavy opener 'Orphans' first time round. The same can be said for closer 'Volcano' - the biggest shock to the system you're bound to hear on the record. Eight albums in, and Beck might have written his most beautiful song to date. Melody the key, melancholic backing vocals at the ready, "I'm tired of evil /And all the things/ That I don't know" quivers the sleepy-head. Proceedings suddenly become haunting - "I don't know if I'm sane / But there's a ghost in my heart" and 'Modern Guilt' ends on anything but an anti-climax.

Other moments aren't as instant, requiring time but not effort. Chunky drums (looped of course), take control in 'Walls' - possessing one of the catchiest chorus' in Beck's career thus far, all thanks to Burton's production, it has to be said. 'Replica' stands out as the most complex and dysfunctional effort, sitting comfortably and not requiring as much attention and care as the other tracks. There isn't a great deal of variation on 'Modern Guilt' but for a record so short, that'd be all too much.

Beck's still not the entertainer he used to be in the "good old days" of 'Odelay' and the like but he's settled into his new skin remarkably well. Thriving in the less obvious moments, the addition of Burton on board was essential, an ideal companion for a record so clear in direction. Hell, we'd give th
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern Guilt, 29 July 2008
By 
Paul McNamee (North Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
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.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck Power, 13 July 2008
By 
M. Pedrick (Yeovil, Somerset) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
The most impressive Beck record since Sea Change, for this genre bending artist has finally produced a record that, rather than land erratically at whatever musical influence echoes his current feelings, is a culmination of all his styles. Melodic folk, post-modern alternative indie, whatever you call it, it's brilliant.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful reminder of Beck's genius, 24 July 2008
By 
A. BUNCALL "abuncall" - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
I can't really see what people are complaining about. Beck has spent the last countless years reeling out album after album of quality, thought provoking and truly original music.
Modern Guilt is a timely reminder of the sheer quality of his song writing, yes it's shorter this time but that affords him only track where he breaks out the "experimental"/quirky/frankly not very listenable stuff in 'Replica'.
Frankly the first and last tracks contain everything you need to fall in love with Beck either for the first time or the 500th.
Volcano in particular is potentially his most beautiful track to date and makes me go all goosepimply just listening to it.
I can't see how comments along the lines of "this isn't as good as seachange or odelay" hold any value at all. If it's that era of Beck you like then go back and listen to those albums - or compile yourself a "best of beck" CD - there's plenty to choose from!
These are dark days in terms of the quality and originality of music on offer and this latest offering from Beck is much needed ray of light - a reminder that human beings can still make music that is worth listening to.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Competent, but no classic, 21 Aug. 2008
By 
A. Wright (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
'Modern Guilt' has the feeling of an 'in-between' album, although having said that, Beck's last truly great album was 'Sea Change' - 'The Information' and 'Guero' had moments of brilliance, but were incomparible to 'Midnite Vultures' or 'Odelay'.

I think the saddest thing about this album is that its hard to even pick one song that could have been a decent launch single. Its all just... samey, which is a shame.

I've not given up on Beck, because he clearly has talent... but this feels like an album cranked out in his sleep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars another great one, 6 Dec. 2009
By 
N. F. Barbosa - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
another great album from Beck, I like everything he does so I am probably not the best reviewer but so far he hasn't astray from the path
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 10 songs, 34 minutes, one of his best!, 5 Dec. 2008
By 
Andy Sweeney "music was my first love" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Modern Guilt (Audio CD)
One thing is for sure that when you buy a Beck album, you never really know what to expect, such is the multi-faceted nature of the artist, and you definitely have to approach most of his albums with an open mind. If 'Modern Guilt' could be compared with any of his previous albums, then many of the songs are closest to the melodic melancholy of 'Sea Change', but with added beats, giving this release a fresh, original sound but with all the characteristics of what makes Beck's music so aurally appealing. Danger Mouse's production matches musical influences often steeped in the late 60's and early 70's with up-front, contemporary percussion, giving much of the album a split-personality sense of laid-back, detached urgency - and it is certainly an interesting combination.

There are plenty of excellent tracks here. The album opener, 'Orphans', featuring Cat Power, is a dark and restrained, but undeniably catchy, composition which could have come straight from 'Odelay'. 'Gamma Ray' has all the hallmarks of a classic modern psychedelic dance track, 'Chemtrails' is a swirling, psychedelic piece of lyrical paranoia and misery, while the title track, 'Modern Guilt' matches a classy, strings-embellished song which could have easily been lifted straight from Elliott Smith's songbook, if it wasn't for the impossibly jaunty beat. The other track to really demand my attention and capture my imagination is the last song, 'Volcano', which is a beautiful piece of dark, alternative folk and, once more, leaves me feeling like Elliott Smith is, in fact, alive and well.

Not every single track on this album is pure brilliance, in fact, there is a bit of a mid-album lull where the music merely gets close to ordinary, but it is the album's punchy 34 minute length consisting of just ten songs which makes this album a real winner and makes it one of Beck's more instantly likeable releases, proving that less sometimes really is more. I've enjoyed all of Beck's albums since 'Odelay' - with the exception of 'Midnite Vultures' - but I'd have to say I have enjoyed this one more than most.
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