Top positive review
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on 22 August 2009
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.