OK, fine, I’ll admit it.
I’ve missed you Beck.
Beck is back, and he brought a little taste of dad-rock with him. And I don’t mean the kind of sell-out dad-rock that the Red Hot Chili Peppers mastered; more like the kind of dad-rock that Pearl Jam attempts.
But Beck does it so much better.
“Morning Phase” is Beck’s first album release in 12 years. As we saw in his 2002 record “Sea Change,” it follows the theme of a mild maturation of a once electric artist of irony. Beck seems to take darker themes and fuses them into masterful melodies of folk.
“Sea Change” stripped Beck down and showed us just where he was sitting then. Both albums take you on a dreary heartbroken path, but it’s beautiful.
This album begins with a 40-second melody written by his father, David Campbell named “Cycle.” The opening track sets the tone of where the album begins its journey.
Beck moves forward by quickly melting into the second song, “Morning,” where he begs the question, “Can we start it all over again?”
Who can’t relate to that question? It’s as if Beck begs his fans to start on a fresh blank page with him as they begin their journey through his tracks. I’m all for a blank page. It’s clear that this rock artist is bearing his soul.
After the first two songs, a folksy tone is set that takes a more grown-up approach. Beck almost seems reminiscent of a softer, more hip version of the father of rebellion rock, Neil Young, mixed in with The Shins’ early sound.
Tracks like “Say Goodbye” and “Blue Moon” mirror many of the same pained feelings about relationships and society that Young belted on legendary albums like “Harvest.”
It’s hard for me to be totally on board with this new album like I was with “Sea Change”. In all honesty, I was hoping to see Beck bring back some of his liveliness that used to keep me skipping down high school hallways. (Yes, “Loser” made me literally skip down high school hallways. Judge me.)
I get that your heroes grow up, but in tracks like “Wave” and “Turn Away”, it’s as if Beck’s just going through the motions a bit. This is where the album loses its strength. He is too sleepy for me to appreciate. This is the only thing that keeps the album from hitting four out of five stars in my library.
Then “Country Down” and “Waking Light” pull it all together perfectly for a fantastic finish.
Beck may be back, but it’s the mature Beck that seems to be here to stay. But still, I will continue to welcome any version of Beck that shows up on my Spotify playlist.