Monday, March 30, 2015
I haven't been fully devoted to Beck over the years. I have some of his albums, all the way back to his first, when he burst on the scene with "Loser." That song in no way prefigures the lush orchestrations and meditative pulses of Morning Phase. I hesitate to call it "New Age," because I think that's become a pejorative term, but this record does not contain pop tropes, and there's no recognizable electric guitar until a burst at the very end.
Mostly Morning Phase is a collage of sound, with strings, acoustic guitars, and drums. After a serene opening instrumental called "Cycle," the album appropriately kicks off with "Morning:"
"Woke up this morning
From a long night in the storm
Looked up this morning
Saw the roses full of thorns"
Then we move into one of the best songs here (though there are no bad ones), "Heart is a Drum," which contains the lovely line, "Your heart is a drum, keeping time with everyone."
As I said, each cut here is sublime, with standouts being "Say Goodbye," "Blue Moon," (he dared to re-use that title and gets away with it) and "Blackbird Chain," which is a love song in which he states, "I will never, never, never, never refuse you," which is an interesting way of putting an emotion. I must also commend "Wave," a soaringly beautiful song using a string orchestra, which does put one in mind of a beach. I sat listening to this just now and felt incredibly moved, though I can't pinpoint why. If I were a film director, I'd like to give Beck a call and see if he would score my film.
Beck, once an alt-rock oddity, has no transcended onto another plane. Like Bjork, there are no boundaries to what he might be able to do--films, operas, what have you. I look forward to hearing what's next.