I swear, the moment I heard the opening chords to Morning Phase, my heart melted a little. By the second track, Morning, I was utterly hypnotised by Beck’s angelic voice and an overwhelming sense that the end of the album would see me running to the roof of my flat to proclaim true love.
In first hearing its mix of folky and mellow tones alongside a dominant acoustic setting and near-melancholic vibe, I instantly thought of Beck’s mournful 2002 album Sea Change. Though back then he openly grieved for lost love, Morning Phase captures a positivity atop an ocean of sorrowful lyrics (“I’m so tired of being alone/Oh, don’t leave me on my own” – Blue Moon)
While trying to avoid over-exaggeration, I must say, Blue Moon is incredibly beautiful, in all senses of the word. It captures Beck’s obvious detachment from his livelier days and portrays a more grown-up, settled version of himself. The melody is upbeat, yet the lyrics hit you hard and leave you wondering what he must have been thinking about when he put pen to paper.
Wave and Don’t Let It Go are two more tracks that can only be exaggerated about. The combination of harmonising violins and the simplicity of Beck’s voice is genius, and as felt throughout the album, you can’t help but feel saddened by an invisible force behind his lyrics.
If I were to state one glitch it would be to mention that as a long-time, dedicated Beck Hansen fan, I’m not quite used to how clean-cut and edited his voice sometimes sounds. It has an over-produced feel about it, but only on rare occasions. On Blackbird Chain for example, this subtle, robotic cleanliness is heard a number of times – though instead of dwelling on it as a down point to the album, I’ve grown to realise that there may be other reasons for its use. The vocal effect resembles many of Gotye’s songs, for example, and holds possible influences from such artists such as Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and maybe even Simon & Garfunkel, who both boasted spectacular vocal ranges and a dab-hand in musical experimentation.
Overall, I truly love this album. Beck has grown from a ‘loser’ in his twenties to a sophisticated 40 something man with an ear for music that most musicians can only dream of.