“Morning Phase”

Jake Tapley

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Beck’s career as a musician has been much like that of a roller coaster.

In terms of energy and concept, it has certainly had its highs (think “Mellow Gold” and “Odelay”) and lows (“Sea Change” and now “Morning Phase”).

Through it all, the prolific songwriter certainly hasn’t been afraid to defy all labels, moving from genre to genre – spanning lo-fi, anti-folk, experimental, alternative rock, soul, funk, folk, country and even hip-hop with the 2007 release “The Information.”

In his newest release, “Morning Phase,” we see a return to a much slower and solemn side of Beck. Moving between rhythmic and atmospheric (at times psychedelic) folk numbers, the album has some highs and lows in and of itself.

The lead single, “Blue Moon,” is certainly a sonic high point with its infectious melodies and juxtaposition of aggressive percussion against calming string arrangements.

“Blackbird Chain,” which beckons strongly to the grassroots movement of the 60s and 70s, produces a similar effect with its bouncy (for lack of a better word) structure that lends itself heavily to foot tapping.

Conversely, the song “Unforgiven” acts as a slow jam with layers of instrumentation and effects blending together to create a sprawling, almost dreamlike soundscape. Its billowy echoes don’t leave you when the song does.

“Morning Phase” ends on a high note with “Waking Light.” This hopeful song substitutes a fullness of sound for the more rhythmic approach that Beck has been known for.

Its lyrics conclude the album thematically for the listener, and it feels as though Beck has found closure and can now move on to future pursuits.

“Waking light, it grew from the shadow/Brace yourself to the morning low/Night is gone, long way turning/You’ve waited long enough to know.”

This being his first release in six years, it seems the world of music has been waiting, as well. And it’s at least reassuring to know that it was well worth the wait.

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