“Morning Phase” by Beck Review


Will’s take on “Morning Phase”

“Morning Phase,” Beck’s first release since “Modern Guilt,” is a challenging yet rewarding effort. In times when we expect instant gratification, “Morning Phase” drags along at a tortoise’s pace, but rewards the listener at every step.

While I’m hesitant to call “Morning Phase” melancholy, Beck is clearly working through some kind of dark thoughts – some resolved, some not. Why Beck hasn’t released an album in six years, I can’t say, but he sure used his time well. The emotionally charged album gives a different sort of insight into dealing with life. “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 / Don’t let it go,” he sings.

“Morning Phase” features rich guitar lines with lovely vocals that outline and enhance, but don’t overshadow the music – a quality lacking in much of modern music. Beck doesn’t have to use his lyrics to create emotion – they only fill in details for a story created by the hauntingly beautiful melodies and sonorous backup tracks.

To appreciate the album fully, you have to be willing to sit down and be swept away in the sea of sound. This is in no way a “walking to class” album, and you would be hard-pressed to find a song that could make its way onto mainstream radio. But nonetheless, Beck’s twelfth studio effort is incredibly beautiful, masterfully detailed, and downright amazing.

Key songs:

“Blue Moon”

“Don’t Let it Go”

“Country Down”

“Heart is a Drum”


4.5 out of 5 stars.

Micah’s take on “Morning Phase”


Beck’s latest, “Morning Phase,” is an album. I know it seems self-evident, but it bears noting, since most albums, today and yesterday, are just loosely-connected collections of songs, together by virtue of being written around the same time rather than by common theme. “Morning Phase” is, by contrast, a cohesive work of art.

It’s art not just by virtue of its quality, though. If you’re familiar with Beck, you know about his style – the aural equivalent of mixed-medium, a chopped-up collage of genres and instruments and samples that somehow form a cohesive whole. “Morning Phase” might be stripped-down compared to other Beck albums, but it’s still definitely in his style – a slow country waltz might have a bit of backmasked synth feedback in it, and it doesn’t feel out of place.

Then you’ve got the songs themselves. The theme’s the aftermath of a break-up, but it never seems vindictive. Instead, it’s meditative, alternating between despair and hope. The music never overwhelms the lyrics, which are just cryptic enough to be thought-provoking.

You don’t get albums like this very often – albums that make you realize what a singer-songwriter, at the top of his game, is capable of. Savor it.

Key songs:

Honestly, just buy the whole album. “Blue Moon” is the best cut, but it works best as a cohesive whole.


5 out of 5 stars.