169 of 173 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2002
You've got to wonder what Beck's ex-girlfriend is feeling right now. Imagine this, your boyfriend of nine years, whom you've recently broken up with, has just released an sad album on which *every* song is about his post-breakup depression. On top of that, the album received five-stars from Rolling Stone (only the second this year) and is considered by many to be an instant classic. The ex-boyfriend is Beck and his album is called Sea Change.
The music is deceptively simple and beautiful. The wackiness of Beck's previous efforts is gone and the blatant weirdness is replaced by an backward sincerity. Musically and lyrically, this album is very real. The music creates a soft bed upon which Beck's voice floats over, lands on, and sinks into. The vocal performance is in stark contrast to the "heartfelt" pop-vocal performances of today. Beck is whispering his sorrows in our collective ear, rather than screaming at us. It is a very bold and personal effort.
Sea Change, while not yet being called a concept album, seems to follow the appropriate rules for a concept album. The first song, "Golden Age" sets up the mood and the situation. "Put your hands on the wheel / Let the golden age begin / Let the window down / Feel the moonlight in your skin / Let the desert wind cool your aching head / Let the weight of the world drift away instead" Beck is welcoming us into his melancholy world, telling you to hold on, allow his sadness (moonlight) to touch you, and escape into his pain. Likewise, the song's instrumentation begins simply with an acoustic guitar and ends with a kind of electronic white noise.
The last song, "Side Of The Road", wraps up the journey by returning the listener to the road; the trip is over. The instrumentation is back to traditional acoustic instruments, no electronic blips and beeps. In the end, Beck tells us, "On a borrowed dime / In a different light / You might see what / The other side looks like / ...Let it pass / On the side of the road/ What a friend could tell me now" In essence, I think Beck is saying that now that you've seem my misery, know that it doesn't have to be your own experience -- in fact, you'd probably be better off letting it simply pass.
It's hard to choose a favorite song since they all kind of run into each other and maintain a consistent mood. Truth be told, every song is great, every song is beautiful. Each listen seems to bring more understanding and more insight into Beck's sadness. Immediate standouts include the opener, "The Golden Age", as well as "Guess I'm Doing Fine", "Lost Cause", "Nothing I Haven't Seen", and "Sunday Sun".
It's a great album. There is emotion in every note, every word. Behind all the pain and sadness there is beauty and possibly even joy. It's easily the best album I've heard all year and ranks among my favorites of all time. It's part Harvest-era Neil Young, part Air, with a healthy dose of Nick Cave thrown in for good measure. But all those different components come together to create something unique, something truly honest. Sea Changes is a personal look into Beck's emotions and inner thoughts. It's something that shouldn't be missed.
352 of 369 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2003
I was having lunch in a vegetarian restaurant in Seattle when I heard this great song being played over the restaurants sound system. The singer sounded like he was accompanied by the philharmonic orchestra. I asked the waiter what was playing and he said; Beck's Sea Change. The song playing was Lonesome Tears, and I know that much because after finishing lunch I went right out and bought the CD. I am over fifty years old and mostly listen to folk music (hank dogs, hem, gillian welch, folkers like that)so buying a Beck CD was kind of out of my range. I have discovered that in the most unusual musical way that Sea Change is actually addicting. I would put a label on this CD: Warning, may be habit forming! I see that it has been referred to as a downer, a bummer, that Beck is in transition from some dark place. Do not let that steer you off course from Sea Change. The music just takes you along on this sea of sensation, and not once have I felt brought down by it. Infact it seems to put me at ease, as if I have surrendered my anxiety. I can listen to it on my way to work in the morning and last thing at night and its effect seems to have the same results, I want to play it all over again. Thank you for sharing your formidable talent,Beck. I expect your next CD to be something entirely different as that is your apparent musical nature.
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2002
We all know that breaking up is hard to do. Somewhere between listening to Bob Dylan's prolific Blood on the Tracks, Joy Division's beautiful "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and Jeff Buckley's heartbreaking "Last Goodbye", I think we get the point that breaking up is a real melancholic deal. So it's little surprise that Beck's new album, Sea Change, reportedly about the break up between him and his longtime girlfriend, is about as cheery as an empty house in the dead of winter. That's not to say that it's not a superb album; Sea Change is Beck's greatest album since his classic Odelay.
The album starts off with the forlorn lullaby "The Golden Age" in which he admits "These days\ I hardly get by\ I don't even try". Beck hasn't been this open since 1998's sarcastically damper Mutations, and the only song on that record to reach this kind of emotional grab was the solemn "Nobody's Fault but My Own". 96's Odelay and 99's Midnite Vultures were fantastic, but songs like "Milk and Honey", "The New Pollution" and "Hollywood Freaks" offered up little for emotional resonance. Sea Change offers up only emotion, and it's the grim type. "Paper Tiger" rides on a wavy bass line and has orchestras floating in and out of the background while Beck mumbles "There's no road back to you". The music gets a little more cheerful on "Lost Cause" but with its chanting chorus of "Baby, I'm a Lost Cause", it doesn't stray too far. But all the funky, happy rhythms that Beck has made in his career can outweigh the utter glacier chill of the heart wrenching "Lonesome Tears". Beck howls under a maze of orchestras at the chorus "How could this love/Ever changing/Never change the way I feel" in a voice that would make the reaper sob. The song is haunting and sits itself right next to your heart. The entire album hits a spot in the listener's gut where it won't come loose. In a world of mostly forgettable and redundant music, Sea Change is a gem, even if the edges cut.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2013
This is one of the best surround discs I've ever heard! EVER. It's absolutely stellar. 24/192 DTS-MA 5.1 as well as 24/192 5.1 and/or both in stereo as well. I've owned the DVD-A as well as the SACD, and I thought they were both great, but this is so much clearer! I would give this more STARS if I could! If HFPA continues to release mixes like this, they'll have a great format!! Cannot recommend this disc enough!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2006
Beck is what I'd consider a postmodernist, in that, all of his music is a sort of ode to something that came before. In all of his older albums, Beck built his sound by sampling the sounds of music you'd heard before. They were original and inventive whether he was delving into country, grunge or hip-hop, but there was a detachment to all of them.
Not the case with Sea Change. In a sense, the folksy style of this album will be familiar to you because Beck is doing what he does best -- taking what's familiar and making it his own. However, this time he has his own perspective.
It's an album dripping in melancholy, yes, but it's a cathardic act because by the end of the album he's expressed every aspect of the end of a relationship and the loss of love. This time around Beck's lyrics aren't just sonic window-dressing -- they are actual thoughts.
I think I read somewhere that this was Beck's Blood on the Tracks and that is probably as good a comparison as you're going to get. Both albums feature two great artists at the end of long relationships. Both albums musical innovation with honest emotion. Both albums are classic.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2002
Grab a pint of icecream and the biggest spoon in the drawer, or sulk in the corner hugging your favorite teddy bear. Um, better yet, just pop in 'Sea Change,' Beck's downbeat meditation on disappointment and loss. Beck returns to the introspective days of 'Mutations,' but this time, he's not simply pensive, this guy is downright despondent. However, he never sounds whiny, and one never gets the impression that he's simply feigning some pretentious and trendy concept. What gives this album it's focus, depth, and undeniable power is Beck's ability to convey a true and inexorable sense of sincerity and self-therapy. He allows consistency to build a strong case. For example, Beck never strays from the quiet simmer that opens on 'The Golden Age' and drifts on to more obviously dreary songs like 'Lonesome Tears,' 'Lost Cause,' and 'Already Dead.' Melancholy orchestral moments fade in and out. Hushed and reverent guitars, wurlitzer, percussion, and synth follow Beck along through his desolate journey. At times, his tone and manner recalls the curiously attractive, self imposed loathsomeness of E and his band, 'Eels.' Beck sounds as though he is consenting to a life overrun with misery. In a time when we're all a little world weary, this is some self-therapy we could all afford to get in on. Initially, a listener may find this new set depressing, but assuredly, Beck's confident and effusive lyrics coupled with his genuine and affecting grace, style, and audacity lend themselves well to one of this year's best new albums. How timely and appropriate for an extraordinarily talented artist such as Beck to offer us 'Sea Change,' a quiet stunner and a new American classic.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2007
I'm 52. Don't think much of today's music. Beck is an exception. This album is right up there with Lennon/McCartney material. A contemporay masterpiece which is rare nowadays. Beautiful.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2002
If Beck had manic depression, and "Midnite Vultures" was his manic phase, then "Sea Change" is the hard-hitting, depressive comedown. I've been a huge Beck fan for years, and even I was surprised by this departure. "Sea Change" gives up his trademark abstract lyricism for words that are sadder and more sparse. Many of these songs, especially "Round the Bend", recall "Pink Moon"-era Nick Drake.
All sadness aside, Nigel Goodrich did an amazing production job on this album. Songs like "Already Dead" and "Side of the Road" are simple acoustic-guitar-driven affairs. At other times, with soaring string arrangements and cavernous vocal reverb, many of the songs have an epic quality ("Sunday Sun", "Lonesome Tears", etc).
This is, essentially, a Beck album without any moments of levity, which can make it quite a tough listen. But then again, if you've had a tough day, this might just be perfect for you. For first time purchasers of a Beck disc, start elsewhere. For Beck fans, however, this should be a welcome addition to the collection.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2006
OK, for just a minute or two of your time, you'll see these seemingly pointless 5 stars, but they REALLY mean something. This album is not one to just dismiss. It is not for the casual "Loser" or "Where It's At" fan, but for those who can find something besides the singles and the surface of Beck's music. This is defiantly for someone who understands that music is an experience, and in this particular journey it has changed the artist, and can easily be felt by someone who's a Beck fan or not.
A 'sad' album it may be, but never depressing. There is something that can't just be described as 'sad' inside the album. There's a voice that is calling out and heeding warnings to an empty room. It sings, and wails, and drifts in and out while it reminisces over the stains and tracks of the past that it wants to leave. It is a glance into human emotions that has rarely been captured, it takes you to an atmosphere so clearly painted by the artist and it is easy to get lost in. Everything in the CD starts to flow together, and it is done so effortlessly that it starts to pull you farther and farther out into its own world until you are isolated with the voice in the surrounding sea.
"Sea Change" glows with a haunting beauty that drips off of every verse and chord. Lyrics have so much power and imagery behind them to the point where they could become entire stories by themselves. There are countless verses that stay with you long after the music is over including 'Round the Bend' in its dark entirety and "In a sea change nothing is safe." gives me chills every time. Musically, every song is effective whether it be an entire orchestra that plays a building climax or an acoustic guitar that directs you to the end with some advice before you go. After listening to "Sea Change" I often feel relaxed and have to drift back into the world like I was in some compelling dream.
Essential Recording. Hands Down.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2002
Sitting down to write this, It's hard for me to imagine that almost TEN years ago I was riding in the back of my friend's car (going home from Junior High for god's sake...) jamming out to 'Loser' and 'The Sign' by Ace of Base... A short time after I bought a copy of Mellow Gold, I stumbled on a copy of another Beck release. I thought it'd be another Mellow Gold-esque jam session, but it turned out to be just Beck, an acoustic guitar, and some friends from the Olympia, WA area. There were no psychadelic freak out sounds, no vocoders, nothing... Just the man doin his thing, and sounding sad, thoughtful and mellow. That album was "One Foot in the Grave", released on K Records in 1993.
I had the same reaction to "One Foot in the Grave" as may reviews I've read from fans and newcomers alike: "It doesn't sound like New Pollution... I Can't dig it....Too Depressing." And if that's what you're seeking, then you probably should skip this album. If your tastes are limited to what's popular, or what makes you shake your thing, this won't be for you. It wasn't for me at the time: I just filed "One Foot" in the rack, and never came across it again until a year or so later, when I had just finished listening to Mellow Gold all the way through, and I was deep in thought over "Blackhole", the last track on the disc. Then I gave "One Foot" a try. BOOM! It all fell into place.
There's a ballad on all of Beck's 'Mainstream' releases: 'Blackhole' and 'Steal my Body Home' off "Mellow Gold", 'Ramshackle' off Odelay, and even the song 'Beautiful Way' off "Midnite Vultures". And as others have pointed out, there's a funky album for every thoughtful one.
"Sea Change" may make you see the beauty in this amazing double-artist.
(BTW- Just a fun fact: Track 7 on the album 'It's All in Your Mind' Is actually 10 years old as well. It was released as a follow up 7" record to "One Foot in the Grave". It had that track, the song 'Feather in your Cap' (which was later re-done as well for the Suburbia soundtrack), and 'Whiskey Can-Can'. If you ever see it, pick it up to hear the original, stripped-down version of this great song)