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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