Beck | Modern Guilt (DGC)

cd_beck.jpgBeck really masters the art of short but sweet on most of these songs. The result: a ten-song album that clocks in at under 34 minutes of total play time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some albums need to be put down and revisited after a few weeks’ digestion. For one reason or another, the music doesn’t speak to you like you think it should. Beck’s latest release, Modern Guilt, might just fit into this category for those who don’t quite get it after the first or second listen.

Beck co-produced the album with Danger Mouse, a well-known figure in the industry whose credits include Gnarls Barkley and The Black Keys. Mr. Mouse is also listed as a performer on most of the songs; he provides some instrumental backup as well as "beats" and "noises," according to the liner notes.

While the laidback and slightly mumbly charm is as present as ever, Modern Guilt is a little less organic than other Beck works. This is partially why I had to walk away from this album for a bit; when I found out about this collaboration, I thought the album might come across as over-produced. Upon the first couple of listens, I was afraid I was right. But coming back to it, I am convinced that Modern Guilt is quite a fine album; maybe not because of the influence of Danger Mouse, but certainly not in spite of it, either.

The first song from this album to be made public was "Chemtrails," a spacey rock song that goes completely yet beautifully overboard on drum rolls and guitar riffs. The two classic Beck gems sandwiching it—"Gamma Ray" and the title track—may be the best songs on Modern Guilt. Cool, smooth music and that unmistakable rambling lyric remind the listener once again that Beck is still Beck. While some of the bells and whistles inserted by Danger Mouse can seem cumbersome at times, most of the beats and synthesized injections serve to enhance the formula rather than change it.

Modern Guilt closes with "Volcano," one of the slower songs on the album. But because it’s one of only two songs longer than four minutes, the tempo doesn’t drag the album to a stop. Beck really masters the art of short but sweet on most of these songs. The result: a ten-song album that clocks in at under 34 minutes of total play time. Even the aesthetic attributes of Modern Guilt refuse to monopolize your time; the entire CD case includes three black and white pictures and nearly all of the type is black on white paper.

Fans of Beck have a great album on their hands with Modern Guilt. It may not be life changing, but given a chance (or two or three) to really reveal itself, this album is easy to love. A- | Chris Reed

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply