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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary.
I've had a rather on-off relationship with Beck over the years. His chameleon-like musical abilities mean that somebody unfamiliar with his work could listen to two albums back to back and not even realise that they were listening to the same artist. This means that the prospect of a new Beck album doesn't necessarily fill me with excitement; I have enjoyed plenty of...
Published 5 months ago by A. Sweeney

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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing really new, but still enjoyable
'Sea Change' being one of my all-time favourites, I probably expected too much from 'Morning Phase', or was that the effect of rave reviews everywhere... With the notable exception of 'Wave', almost nothing here hasn't been heard already from this amazing artist, and a sense of predictability might ruin your first listen of the new album. 'Waking Light' and its exciting...
Published 4 months ago by vinylandlace


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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary., 24 Feb 2014
By 
A. Sweeney "I don't care what you call me" (Brighton, East Sussex) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
I've had a rather on-off relationship with Beck over the years. His chameleon-like musical abilities mean that somebody unfamiliar with his work could listen to two albums back to back and not even realise that they were listening to the same artist. This means that the prospect of a new Beck album doesn't necessarily fill me with excitement; I have enjoyed plenty of his releases, but I've also positively disliked a couple of his efforts too. One of his most distinctive pieces of work is his 2002 album, "Sea Change", produced by Nigel Godrich, which, up until this point, stood alone as arguably his best record (the hugely creative "Odelay" being the other contender) with a dreamy, expansive, acoustic, shimmering character. Now, with "Morning Phase", his first album in six years, he has released a self-produced record every bit the equal of "Sea Change", the album that many fans consider to be his masterpiece. It wouldn't be inaccurate to describe this as a follow-up album to "Sea Change", such is the similarity between the two bodies of work, but "Morning Phase", importantly, still has a character of its very own and, although it doesn't have advantage of the element of surprise which made its older sibling such a beautifully refreshing listen, it is probably the better album.

There are echoes of Nick Drake, Neil Young, Simon and Garfunkel ("Turn Away", especially) and all of the hallmarks of the late sixties/early seventies folk greats in abundance on this album. I wouldn't want you to think that you were going to hear something stripped down and entirely folk, though, there is definitely something rather sumptuous and grand about "Morning Phase", an impressive vision throughout the set that takes the compositions to a higher level than any simply defined genre. There is also evidence that Beck has learned much from working with Nigel Godrich, as you can almost hear his trademark sound on some tracks and surrounding himself with excellent musicians such as Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Jason Falkner and Joey Waronker as well as a truly wonderful full string section conducted by one of the industry's most accomplished figures, David Richard Campbell (Beck's father) means that this is a magnificently arranged and recorded piece of work, featuring much of the same personnel who made "Sea Change" such a remarkable record. This project has taken him five years to write, record, polish, re-record and develop - it is an intricately-crafted labour of love and the amount of time he has spent on it has paid dividends; it's almost eerily perfect. Quite simply, "Morning Phase" is probably the best album Beck has ever made and, without a doubt, one of the finest pieces of work I am likely to hear this year.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible, 6 Mar 2014
This review is from: Morning Phase [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Here it is. Six years or so of waiting. The long-awaited follow up to Modern Guilt, Morning Phase is billed as a companion piece to Sea Change. The connection between this album and it's 2002 predecessor is obvious from the outset.
The string intro 'Cycle' reminiscent of 'Lonesome Tears', then 'Morning' which has echoes of 'The Golden Age'. 'Heart Is A Drum' reminds me, like several moments on this album of the Pink Floyd of Obscured By Clouds / Meddle era, and this is my overriding feeling, listening to Morning Phase, more so than the Sea Change comparison. It is a more uplifting listen than Sea Change.
'Say Goodbye' with its crisp acoustic guitar and banjo has a Neil Young vibe followed by the first song which was trailed ahead of the album release, the heartfelt single 'Blue Moon' which gives way to the slower tempo of 'Unforgiven'
A striking aspect of this record is the production. It sounds like a Nigel Godrich production, with whom Beck has worked on some of his finest albums. It is clear that he has learned a lot during their collaborations and appears to have now matched him in terms of lending his music drama and atmosphere. 'Wave' has plenty of both. Beck's father, David arranges here the string section which has real gravitas. It is a stand-out song on a stand-out album and it's strings remind me a little of some of the darker arrangements from 'The Wall', and another Floyd comparison.
'Dont Let It Go' to me is evocative of the Ryan Adams of Heartbreaker era but with haunting vocal harmonies which have a 'Runners Dial Zero' flavour. Blackbird Chain also has a Mutations feel and is followed by another string arrangement 'Phase'
'Turn Away' sees Beck back into full-on Pink Floyd mode,reminding me very much of 'GoodBye Blue Sky' in both tempo and instrumentation, in addition to Beck's Dave Gillmore-like mellow harmonising and multi-tracked vocals. Beautiful.
'Country Down' is an alt-country anthem reminding me in some senses of Neil Young's On The Beach era.
'Waking Light is a fitting finale to an epic Beck release, and has many of the elements of what makes this such a great album - the lush strings, the vocal harmonies and the Pink Floyd type arrangements. The finale leaves you with sense that you have just heard a classic which will go down as one of Beck's very finest.
Is this the best Beck album? It's difficult to say. I am playing a very lot at the moment, but then it's been a long time in coming. I will say though, that along with The Information, Sea Change, Mutations and Odelay (Not to mention the acoustic version of Modern Guilt), Morning Phase is definitely one of his best
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let the Golden Age begin (again), 24 Feb 2014
By 
Rough Diamond (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
This is such a slow, lush, languid, immersive, beautiful record. Like 'Sea Change', which is very much its blood-brother, it puts us behind the wheel of a comfortable but ageing sedan and takes us on a slow, hazy drive through the desert, with Nick Drake in the passenger seat. But if 'Sea Change' was a drive in the cold moonlight, on 'Morning Phase' we're driving into the bleached-out, watery colours of the dawn.

Beck has always mined deep into the seams of American musical forms, and never more so than in 2012's 'Song Reader', an album so traditional it was only ever issued as sheet music. Those of us who were lucky enough to see Beck and his pals perform 'Song Reader' at last year's Barbican jamboree might have expected the same gleeful, antic spirit of experimentation and discovery from 'Morning Phase'. No chance. While the new new album is as in love with the past as its immediate forebear (how can it not be with a song titled 'Blue Moon' and a first lyric that begins "Woke up this morning"?), it's also the most restrained, constrained record in Beck's entire canon. Musically, it completely recaptures the woozy feel and texture of 'Sea Change', but whereas that album's lyrics railed against the traps of fate and circumstance, 'Morning Phase' just opens its palms and accepts what life throws at it. Like Beck sings in 'Wave' "If I surrender and I don't fight this wave, I won't go under, I'll only be carried away."

Goodness knows we could all do with this kind of blissed-out West Coast sunshine in our lives after the miserable winter we've all just endured. If you have the patience to let its charms slowly enfold you, 'Morning Phase' will warm your bones like a familiar old pullover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another gem from Beck, 26 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
As with all Beck albums,you'll find these songs inhabiting your head-space after a couple of listens - fantastic playing and lush arrangements.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck is back!, 25 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (MP3 Download)
Beck back his to amazing best!!!
Mellow and laid back, it gets better the more you listen. The mans a genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Easy Listening, 24 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
This is the first Beck recording that I have bought. I was curious about it when I read the rave reviews on The Times. It has proved to bae an excellent purchase with some lovely songs. It feels like a melodic mixture of Beach Boys and Corsby Still Nash and Young and is very pleasing on the ear
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck, 22 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
very very very good.worth the purchase. if you are not already you will be a big fan buy it now
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morning Glory, 2 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (MP3 Download)
A glorious return from Beck with gorgeous sounds. Prepare to be seduced. A fantastic mix of folk and pure joy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime, 2 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Morning Phase (MP3 Download)
Beautiful, delicate and life affirming in many ways, the underlying melancholy of this album is also awesome, 'ennui' as the French sum it up!
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beck - Making up for Lost Time, 24 Feb 2014
By 
Red on Black - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Morning Phase (Audio CD)
There is a cottage industry in the terms of the music business, which has tried to accurately pin down the LA maverick Beck Hanson over the past decades. His chameleon like tendencies that can take his music from hip hop sampling to stoner rock, from lo-fi folk to alt country have long delighted critics playing the game of musical sleuth. What is interesting however is that while his most critically lauded album is the eclectic wonder “Odelay” released in 1996, if you go to Amazon you will note that it is the 2002 masterpiece “Sea Change” which gets the “public vote” with double the amount of reviews.

This should not surprise us. Beck released “Sea Change” as a classic break up album and packed it with great songs often in the tradition of Nick Drake. With the release of this superb new album “Morning Phase” he has profitably returned to plough this furrow and produced an album every bit its equal. With essentially the same band that played on “Sea Change” this record is a more mature older brother. Beck himself has admitted that he has located this album “coming from the tradition of "California music" and said, "I'm hearing the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young”. Throw in some British Folk and you will accurately pin this album down.

The songs are stunners. The big ballad “Morning” sounds like Pink Floyd playing country, while the sumptuous “Heart is a Drum” again reprises Nick Drake influences to excellent effect. The song “Blue Moon” has been well trailed in advance of full release and is a beautiful free flowing track with a Lindsay Buckingham tinge. On it Beck talks about being tired of being alone and how he has been “cut down to size/So I can fit inside/The lies that will divide us both in time”. Despite these lyrics “Morning Phase” is a much more uplifting and less introspective album than “Sea Change” There are lush strings based songs such as the haunting “Wave”, these contrast with the acoustic folk of the standout “Turn Away” which sees Beck venture into Paul Simon territory. Beck’s confidence throughout the album is brimming not least on the brilliant pop of “Blackbird Chain” and the “Harvest” like strum of “Country Down”. The albums big closer “Waking Light” swells with sensuous ease drawing down the curtain on a totally gripping and immersive album.

“Morning Phase” is the first new music release that Beck has released in five and half years. It is a record, which he admits he has gradually polished and finessed over the past five years which have also included a spell of illness. As he states about the songs “I found the ones that fit together the best, and then I worked on building it, stripping it back, rewriting it and just kept going until I felt like it was getting better and better." Than heavens he persevered. Beck was once described as “A Dylan In Slacker's Clothing” yet “Morning Phase” shows him refining his art, working like a Trojan and fully delivering the goods.
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