Album: Beck, Modern Guilt (XL)
All grown up, and still going strong
Sunday 06 July 2008
Everyone's favourite Scientologist boy genius is all grown up. Twelve years after his definitive album ('Odelay'), Beck Hansen is pushing 40, married and with two kids in tow. No wonder he's feeling a bit tired of life. There's an air of melancholy to Beck's eighth studio album – his first for XL – from the title right down to his weary, muffled vocals. ("I feel uptight when I walk in the city/I feel so cold when I'm at home," goes the fidgety title track.) Gone is the life-affirming humour and magpie genre-hopping of his early work, replaced by a more mature sensibility and a Sixties pop vibe that always sounds bang up to date, thanks to Brian 'Danger Mouse' Burton's production skills. Standouts include the propulsive bass of "Gamma Ray", the scratchy Squarepusher-esque "Replica" and the done-with-it-all balladry of "Volcano". "Chemtrails" joins My Bloody Valentine to Pink Floyd in a dreamy psych-rock marriage, while heavy percussion keeps it firmly grounded. (Cat Power provided backing vocals, but I can barely hear her.) At 30 minutes long, 'Modern Guilt' is a short and sweet treat. Not a patch on his first few albums, of course, but genius does have a tendency to go off the boil. Luckily for us, Beck is still hanging in there.
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