Friday, 7 March 2014
REVIEW: BECK-MORNING PHASE
Good morning everyone! Rise and shine...are you awake? It's one of those days isn't it? One of those days where the Summer's trying to creep through the covers yet you feel under the weather. The icing of Winter is gone and Spring is coming through in leaps of wind and bounds of rain. It's just not quite Summer yet. It still feels like the fall so you need something else to rise and take you through and make it to the weekend while your working week is almost done. More than a shot of coffee or a daily dose of nauseous news how about some beautiful music to truly help you rise and invigorate your day? How about something from one of this generations prominent singer/songwriters with a legendary legacy not called Springsteen or Dylan? That's right the man to rival Ryan Adams, Beck is back and the art collage, college boys favourite turned graduated music scholar has more than a 'Devil's Haircut' in his mind and below his fedora. No longer a 'Loser', the man of made timeless albums of today like 'Odelay', 'Mutation', 'Modern Guilt' and classic catalogues more returns with an album in the same key as his haunting heartbreak, fan favourite 'Sea Change'. With another change at C, the songs in the key of this mans love life is truly broodingly beautiful. Loneliness has never sounded so gorgeous. The lo-fi, sonically experimental genius brings his multiple psychedelic styles (that have mashed up everything from country to hip-hop...sounds like my kind of guy) and instruments to the ordinary folk pleasing 'Morning Phase', which is set to play through day and nights to those clear and crisp Summer evenings.
Following his 1960's outstanding ode of 'Modern Guilt' and the sublime single of the same name, comes his next acoustic arrangement of art. Sure the forecast may be a downcast downpour of blue, but weathering the storm the kid from Los Angeles keeps it Californian cool, recorded at the city of angels legendary Capitol Records tower that has housed some of the greatest album artworks of all-time. It all sounds so beautifully cinematic too from the 'Cycle' introducing openings that feel like they could lead in to either Beck's breakthrough album, break-up classic 'Nobody's Fault But My Own' or a Wes Anderson picture. 'Moonrise Kingdom' anybody? The great 'Morning' opening may as well be a mourning as the emotive harmonies are song crafting at it's chiseled, monumental best. "Woke up this morning, found a love light in the storm/Looked up this morning, saw the roses full of thorns/Guns are falling, they don't have nowhere to go/Oceans of diamonds always shine, smooth out below" after this first verse of a spirit of sadness you could be happily married with eight children and be unable to keep a dry eye with this one. The beat of 'Heart Is A Drum' keep it going in a more upbeat, get up and go way, but believe me it's the motivation of a torture soul wanting to break free. As the farewell to open arms 'Say Goodbye' questions a love about to be lost, "See the sleet that rests upon/The quiet street we're standing on/Is it time to go away/And try again some other day?" The man who recentely received rave reviews for his cover of John Lennon's 'Love', brings his own Beatle worthy songbook back to the open pages with more stunning sheet music. The hurt impact, but inspired path of life after relationship death comes all the way round on 'Morning' to the 'Blue Moon' single.
Morning's haven't sounded this good since Incubus' 'View'. "I haven't felt the way I feel today/in so long it's hard for me to specify", it's nice to know it.'Unforgiven' may be the unforgettable, untouchable album classic though at the mid-point of this L.P. From the incredible instrumentation to the vocals of a man still amazingly, criminally Bon Iver underrated in this modern age of singer/songwriter searching. 'Modern Guilt' indeed. "Down on the street/Just let the engine run/'Til there's nothing left/Except the damage done", Beck sings on a short but sinisterly sweet cut of heartache that harks to the harmonies of the repeating "Somewhere unforgiven/Time will wait for you". This lonely, long-road drive through despair to determination comes through on the tide change of 'Wave' that feels like an opening 'Cycle' cinematic reprise. Heavy but with heart, following this 'Don't Let It Go' strums to a more simple sound hole beat as Beck sings warnings of amazing advice for jilted lovers and broken hearts like "These are some faults we found/Hollowed out from the years/Don't let them wear you out/Don't let them turn your mind inside out". As he says at the beginning "You better save yourself/From something you can't see", truer words have rarely been spoken. We hope todays fans know how to really listen or read the linear, lyrical, inlay notes of an album because these are the beautiful ballads of their time that can do more than just help them lick their wounds or nurse their muse feelings of a relationship gone west. With this 'Sea Change' to the east-like the man himself moving from L.A. to New York City-this coffee house classic phase of morning is the perfect way to wake up in more ways than one. Especially the right way. A double espresso has got nothing on this two-sided record.
America are glad they've got the right Beck back and don't have to say goodbye, as songs like the 'Blackbird Chain' prove that even when he's deep into a cohesive, small but flowing set of songs, he still sounds refreshed and light. The 'Phase' dual title track, interlude of this influential album keeps this discography sounding like a filmography before the soundtrack of sentiment takes a new change on 'Turn Away'. Through muffled vocals of closed-off feelings Beck broods "Turn turn away/From the weight of your own past/It's magic for the devil/And betray the lack of change". These are the words of a man whose been through a lot as he takes his male Norah Jones, classic break-up works to another amazing album. Far from critically boring or depressing this is brilliant and dominating as the 'Country Down' story and the truly wonderful, day encompassing 'Waking Light' finishes and starts your 24 hour cycle perfectly. As Beck harmonises with you "Brace yourself to the morning low/Night is gone, long way turning/You've waited long enough to know" this is the perfect album closer and A.M opener for "When the morning comes to meet you". Meet it you shall for as they say 'for every dark night, there's a bright day after' and with the 'Sea Change' sequel companion-amazingly, now more than a decade later-this musical accompaniment will help todays trend through troubling times. It's this generations, classic, essential album that should not pass through the shadows of the curtain. So it's time to draw and peak through the venetian blinds to the light of day and truly get up out of those Winter blues. This is gratifying genius that shows you in more ways than one that love is still alive. As the colourful, kaleidoscope of the album artwork shows you it's all bright. Whatever your going through this album can help you see it to the other side. Besides it's all just a 'Phase' and with 'Morning' it's a new day. Have a good one. TIM DAVID HARVEY.