Most helpful critical review
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Pretty but lacking something
on March 13, 2014
This is an album that has already been subjected to a ridiculous amount of scrutiny, being Beck's first in years. I am just adding my opinion for what it's worth. My credentials: I loved Odelay when it came out during the 90's, but even more to the point I really connected with the songs on Sea Change (the unofficial predecessor to Morning Phase). That album seemed heartfelt and, whether or not Beck was really heartbroken when he recorded it, he sold it and I believed it.
Morning Phase *sounds* like a companion piece to Sea Change, at least on the surface. The acoustic guitars backed by sweeping orchestration supporting the deep, mournful vocals capture the same mood as Sea Change. At first it sounded great and I was all set to write up my five-star review. However, repeat listens reveal this album to be (at least for me) a "shrinker" rather than a "grower." This is because, beneath the layers of sound and the beautiful surface, there is ultimately not a lot of depth. The lyrics and mood basically equate to: "Beck is really sad about nothing." Or, worse: "Beck wants us to THINK he's sad about something but he's not really selling it." Which ultimately means that more repeat listens are not really worth my time.
I don't want to be overly harsh here (although I guess that's what I am doing), what's here does sound good. It's a pleasant listen and good music for a rainy day, nighttime car drive, etc. Also, if I had never heard Sea Change, I would probably be giving this album four stars. But I know what Beck is capable of doing. That Sea Change album felt real. This is at best (to quote Phoenix) almost the real thing. Just, in one guy's opinion, two stars short.