Album: Morning Phase
Release Date: February 21st, 2014
Listen to: “Blue Moon”, “Turn Away”, “Waking Light”
By Shelby Kreiger. Eight years after his last release, Modern Guilt, Beck is back—and better. As an homage to his critically acclaimed 2002 release Sea Change, Beck has collaborated with the same musicians who—then and now—helped him create an album dedicated to portraying an album that has as much of a mellow ambiance as it does deep, protruding lyrics. The result is Morning Phase, an album unforgivingly deserving of acclaim (and 4.5 out of 5 stars courtesy of Rolling Stone).
The album begins with a short overture entitled “Cycle”, and it is interesting to note that the only other intermission track on the album is named “Phase”. Beck has taken every detail on this album into consideration, even magnifying these in-between track titles to represent a transition in his songwriting from one age to the next and back again.
The second track, “Morning”, is a solid representation of the general theme of the album. With sunny acoustic guitar and echoing percussion, “Morning” is a soundtrack in itself; something you’d hear overlaid on a roadtrip slideshow. Top down, slight breeze—this song takes you places.
The album carries this light, hazy theme throughout the next few tracks, while Beck expands on lyrical expression with words about love and loss. “Heart Is a Drum” brings out somber lyrics while still maintaining the airy tone that began the album. On “Say Goodbye”, Beck poetically simplifies a story of a broken relationship with “I will wait, take a turn / Sort it out, let it burn / Empty out empty drawer / In my pockets there’s nothing more”. The lightness of the melody nearly makes the subject matter seem almost trivial.
The album takes a small detour with “Unforgiven” and “Wave”, where synthesizer echoes take from the airy tones displayed on the first half of the album. Indirect and sparse lyrics leave the tracks to the imagination of the listener, and much of it sounds like something one would hear on Coldplay’s back catalog.
By the end of the album, Beck has turned back to the melancholy sounds of the beginning. “Turn Away” and “Waking Light” are almost epiphanic in their sound, like watching the sunrise for the first time. Beck leads us out with a beautiful image: “When the memory leaves you / Somewhere you can’t make it home / When the morning comes to meet you / Rest your eyes in waking light”.
The overall warmth of the album leaves the listener in a state of melancholy ecstacy, an idiom even Beck would most likely consider greatly descriptive of the theme. With relatable, simple lyrics, Beck provides the listener with a state of mind as hazy as a brand new morning. Indeed, Morning Phase leaves little to be desired but a cozy blanket and a dreaming state.
Have a listen to the last track, “Waking Light”, below