Beck - Modern Guilt
When I first heard Danger Mouse's now infamous mash-up The Grey Album I thought it was a novelty, a simple entertaining nugget of little importance but great manipulative vision. I had no idea that what he was actually giving us was a Rosetta stone to interpret his future works. For instance, the amalgamation of 70s funk and present day hip-hop produced the backbone for his and Cee-Lo's musical baby Gnarls Barkley. It's a formula echoed from The Grey Album which spliced together The Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album, only with original composition. The blueprint (no pun intended) has now resulted in two Barkley albums, a refreshingly familiar style, and possibly the year's best album (The Odd Couple).
This winning blend of vintage instrumentation and modern lyricism has once again fabricated a magnificent creation in Beck's latest Modern Guilt. Sometimes Bowie, sometimes The Beatles, Danger Mouse has helped Beck return to an era where he can't possibly feel anything less than absolute comfort. Beck, himself one to play in the ancient ways of music's not too distant past, sounds effortless and free within the tie-dyed alternate future of Danger Mouse's vision.
That's not to say that Beck doesn't explore some rather dreary facets of his conscience, after all the name of the album is Modern Guilt. Everything from climate change to his own mortality and the possibility of a higher power is confessed in the candid fashion that Beck fans have grown accustomed to. It's not nearly as emotionally heavy as Sea Change but Modern Guilt definitely gives the listener a glance into what's been on Beck's mind lately. The natural and inventive way in which he and Danger Mouse have chosen to release these thoughts results in an extremely satisfying experience and solidifies Danger Mouse as the harbinger of music's near future.
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on 2009-04-07 tosnob Said:
If we were following the pattern, Modern Guilt should have been Beck's contemplative folksy album. However, with Gnarls Barkley's main musical man Danger Mouse behind the production console, we all knew that was unlikely.
What we get instead is an album of midlevel semi-electronic jams. Nothing challenging or daring like we got on 2006's underrated The Information. Instead we get a Beck who seems to be going through the motions. Think 2005's humdrum Guero.
There are some memorable moments on the record. In particular the Spiritualized-feel of the first single "Chemtrails" and the bottom heavy gritty track "Soul of a Man" stand out.
Unfortunately, not even the guest vocals from Cat Power's Chan Marshall can make this average album an essential disc.
At the end of the day I can sum Modern Guilt up by saying: meh, its sound like a Beck album.
on 2008-07-23 dscanland Said:
I've given Modern Guilt some pretty decent spins and I found myself in love with one song, Youthless. The rest I found to be good, above average with the rest of the indie pop fare these days, but down in comparison to the rest of Beck's glorious catalog. I enjoyed the attempt at Radiohead on "Replica" but that's pretty much all it was. Just last night I caught Beck doing an acoustic set on Canada's Bravo network and it blew me away (the oft forgotten "Black Tambourine" made for a killer acoustic beat-ladened track) . It made me really appreciate a lot of his older material. I heard good things about Modern Guilt and so wanted it to blow me away. It didn't. I may be back in a couple weeks to eat my words but as for now, that's how I feel (4+ listens).
Oh, and Aaron, Odd Couple = Years best album? Whatchoo on dood?