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4.5 out of 5 stars
Morning Phase
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261 of 281 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2015
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
I like Beck, but I bought the album because Kanye is a idiot and I'm here to support real musicians. Congrats Beck!
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88 of 94 people found the following review helpful
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
This is not only Beck's best album in years, but one of the best albums, period. Sonically dense, lush, beautiful. Beck is hearkening back to a time when the concept of the "album" actually meant something -- this is a collection of gorgeous songs that works even more powerfully as a unified whole.
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138 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2014
Format: Audio CD
I’ve been a fan of Beck’s for a little while now. After listening to his 2005 album Guero, I got hooked and bought all his other albums and loved nearly all of them. Considering the Beck I’ve always loved is his alternative-folk-electro-grunge-rock (you know, whatever Beck is) identity, the hints about this album being more in a Sea Change direction instead of an Information or Guero direction kinda make me not as excited as I usually am for a Beck release. But…you’ll notice there’s more reviewing under this paragraph, so you can already guess how bad of an assumption that was.

No matter what type of music Beck approaches, he’s the only artist I’ve ever listened to who can take apart a genre, master it, and put it back together so seamlessly, yet so ‘Beck’. The absorption of this album parallels that attribute flawlessly, like being submerged in a musical pool of bliss. Even if you’re the kind of person who can’t listen to slower paced music, I’d feel bad for you not giving Morning Phase the opportunity to induce you into a symphonic, orchestral, melodic, and soul-moving coma that we all look for in music.

Some albums take a few listens to start clicking with you mentally and musically. Also, Sea Change isn’t my favorite Beck album, so from what others started to say about it being so similar to Morning Phase, I wasn’t expecting too much out of this album when it became available. About three songs into Morning Phase in the first listen, you couldn’t tear me away from the computer.

It’s a hard emotion to describe being so equally excited and powerfully relaxed at the same time, but I think Beck has a word for it in the Becktionary: Morning Phase. I can’t say anymore without taking away the excitement you’ll feel listening to Morning Phase the first time. No, Beck didn’t rise from under the radar with another Guero, he arose with something better. Awaken to the Morning Phase and see what I mean.
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71 of 80 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 25, 2014
Format: Vinyl
There is a cottage industry in the terms of the music business, which has tried to accurately pin down the LA maverick Beck Hanson over the past decades. His chameleon like tendencies that can take his music from hip hop sampling to stoner rock, from lo-fi folk to alt country have long delighted critics playing the game of musical sleuth. What is interesting however is that while his most critically lauded album is the eclectic wonder “Odelay” released in 1996, if you go to Amazon you will note that it is the 2002 masterpiece “Sea Change” which gets the “public vote” with double the amount of reviews.

This should not surprise us. Beck released “Sea Change” as a classic break up album and packed it with great songs often in the tradition of Nick Drake. With the release of this superb new album “Morning Phase” he has profitably returned to plough this furrow and produced an album every bit its equal. With essentially the same band that played on “Sea Change” this record is a more mature older brother. Beck himself has admitted that he has located this album “coming from the tradition of "California music" and said, "I'm hearing the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young”. Throw in some British Folk and you will accurately pin this album down.

The songs are stunners. The big ballad “Morning” sounds like Pink Floyd playing country, while the sumptuous “Heart is a Drum” again reprises Nick Drake influences to excellent effect. The song “Blue Moon” has been well trailed in advance of full release and is a beautiful free flowing track with a Lindsay Buckingham tinge. On it Beck talks about being tired of being alone and how he has been “cut down to size/So I can fit inside/The lies that will divide us both in time”. Despite these lyrics “Morning Phase” is a much more uplifting and less introspective album than “Sea Change” There are lush strings based songs such as the haunting “Wave”, these contrast with the acoustic folk of the standout “Turn Away” which sees Beck venture into Paul Simon territory. Beck’s confidence throughout the album is brimming not least on the brilliant pop of “Blackbird Chain” and the “Harvest” like strum of “Country Down”. The albums big closer “Waking Light” swells with sensuous ease drawing down the curtain on a totally gripping and immersive album.

“Morning Phase” is the first new music release that Beck has released in five and half years. It is a record, which he admits he has gradually polished and finessed over the past five years which have also included a spell of illness. As he states about the songs “I found the ones that fit together the best, and then I worked on building it, stripping it back, rewriting it and just kept going until I felt like it was getting better and better." Than heavens he persevered. Beck was once described as “A Dylan In Slacker's Clothing” yet “Morning Phase” shows him refining his art, working like a Trojan and fully delivering the goods.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CD
When Beck released his masterstroke of moodiness, "Sea Change," it was lauded as a real downer of a break-up album...and one of his best. It's ground he's studiously avoided since - until now. Like that album's older and wiser brother, "Morning Phase" finds Beck picking up the acoustic guitar and moody atmospherics. It's not the cathartic bummer uplift that "Sea Change" was, but it is a darn good California folk-rock album.

In addition, you can also add Nick Drake, one of the few masters of the art of dark folk, as one of the influences. Beautifully ethereal and strong on melody, "Blackbird Chain" and "Blue Moon" fall into this realm, with "Blue Moon" starting off with a brooding ""I'm so tired of being alone, these penitent walls are all I've known." The choruses are layered with echoed spaciness, while Beck keeps trying to call his beloved back. The string heavy "Wave" (which he performed on SNL) leans heavily on atmospherics. Without the use of any percussion, it's just Beck's voice and plenty of sonic watercolors. It's really quite lovely, even as it's ending finds Beck crying "Isolation, isolation..."

"Morning Phase" shows just how much Beck can get away with. It took him six years from the lukewarm "Modern Guilt" to do the soul searching he's doing here. Like "Sea Change," the impact is not immediate, but it is one that sinks in and leaves a lasting impression. He's long moved beyond the hipster cache of "Loser" and can now find the beauty old fashioned sounds of banjos and ukeleles. It's a good thing, because after all these years and plenty of maturity, "Morning Phase," with all of its private mellow gold, shows that Beck is still capable of throwing a wonderful curve ball.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2015
Format: Audio CD
A stunning album from start to finish. I can't stop listening to it. Thank you Grammys for bringing it to my attention.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2015
Format: Vinyl
I probably wouldn't have ordered this album and listened to it on Spotify if not for not only the Album of the Year Grammy win but Kanye's antics, disparaging Beck as an artist and telling him to hand over the award. I loved Beyonce's album for the most part and she was deserving of a Grammy also and she should be proud of her album.

But Morning Phase takes a few listens and then it hit me like a ton of bricks, I adore this album. It's so lush. As one review said, like a beautiful watercolor painting. It's a headphones album all the way and a mood album.

He was deserving of the Grammy also. Whoever won, it doesn't matter. It's all about the art of music. I'm just glad because of controversy, I discovered this gem of an album.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2014
Format: Audio CD
A wonderful collection of songs that make for an extremely cohesive, very relaxed, well thought out, and musical album. Several reviewers have compared this album to Sea Change; I personally have not heard that one yet but if it is anything like Morning Phase, I need to get it as soon as possible. I do own Guero, but it's really not my favorite. I seldom listen to it and just can't seem to get into that side of Beck. Personally I think it's impressive when an artist can have such radically different sounds across different albums, and if this is the direction he's going I definitely don't hate it! :)

Several other reviews have criticized this album saying that it's a 'sleeper,' or that 'all of the tracks run together.' I feel that Beck is falling victim to this generation who buys all of their music on iTunes. This album as a whole is a masterful piece of music; a wonderful example of an ALBUM as a work of art as opposed to a single song as a work of art. The way people cherry-pick and download their favorite songs on iTunes, people's focus when it comes to music has shifted away from albums and is now very individual-song-centric, which I feel is unfortunate. I believe albums are snapshots of artists' lives. The music contained therein can represent the unique phase (pun intended?) in life and with music that the artist occupied at that time. To say (as some have) that this album is a failure because it's different from his other releases, is really to say that a significant part of his life is a failure. Which kind of makes you a d**k! :)

And no, this is not music to work out to. For me this album has a very specific feel, but it's one that I can't quite put into words. But take it for a relaxing walk to the park, or put it on while you make your Sunday morning coffee - you will not be disappointed.
Anyway, I purchased the vinyl version. An album this well thought out deserves to be played right through; no skipping around. Although "Say Goodbye" is my favorite track. :) If you can put away any expectations, aren't expecting funky/edgy Beck, and are prepared to allow 47 minutes of musical goodness to wash over you, you'll probably love it as I have.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Moody. Introspective. Personal.

Very moving journey, best experienced as a full album.

I really hope Beck goes down this road more in the future.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2015
Format: Audio CD
Hauntingly beautiful music arragements and well thought out lyrics makes this album a must buy. Beck has always been an innovator and a creative force in a sea of morass in today's music scene. As a casual listener, I find this one his best work yet. Don't let the hype steer you away, this is a keeper!
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