Saturday, August 2, 2008


Modern Guilt-
Status-Out as of 2008
Rating-4 Feathers

Beck is cool. Beck is the essence of cool. Beck considers himself indie/alternative but I personally think that he created his own genre. Using everything from drum tracks, sampling, and a melodic yet distinctive voice, there is no way you can classify his sound. With 9 albums under his belt and 5 U.S. top 20's Beck has developed a mass of respect in the music industry. With this 10th edition to his discography and inspired by a song created by Beck and producer Danger Mouse, 'Modern Guilt' is bound to be good. 'Orphans' is the best song Beck could've chosen to kick off the album. It sounds like a classic Beck song so it's going to incase new listeners as well as die hard Beck fans and make them want more. 'Gamma Ray' sounds like a groovy surf song. This is less experimental than the usual Beck, but it is one catchy number. In contrast to the lyrics, your body is not bored. 'Chemtrails' is extremely psychedelic. The vocals throughout are very dreamlike and airy made possible by semi-falsetto vocals. From reading the liner notes, I noticed this is the only song on the album that uses an actual drummer other than a drumtrack, but the style is still similar to the rest of the record. 'Modern Guilt' is not the greatest song. The drum track is not that great and it's too electronic. It's very old time-y sounding but that couldn't save it. 'Youthless' sounds very dark at the beginning but once other instruments kick in, it lightens up a bit. The drum track fits in flawlessly. Their ain't nothing 'Youthless' about it. 'Walls' starts with a synth that gets kicked up a notch with a very captivating drum track. Danger Mouse's 'beats' are absolutely genius. The violin/flute sound makes it exotic sounding. It's certainly one of the better songs. 'Replica' really just sounds like super jazzed up elevator music with a striking drumtrack. It has the generic jazz synth but Beck really knows how to make it exciting. It's like Mantovani plugged in. 'Soul of a Man' is really odd sounding. The random heavy-electric guitar riffs are what keeps you hooked. The obscure lyrics are effective too. 'Profanity Prayers' is unusually upbeat. The repeating guitar riff during the verses sounds like 'The Modern Age' by The Strokes, which adds to the Modern feel. The end bit sounds very George Harrison with the slide guitar and ukulele sounds. 'Volcano'(s) drum track at the beginning sound like the elimination drums on 'Project Runway'. They fit in very weirdly with the calmness of the song, which shows that Beck is good at taking two seemingly dissonant sounds and putting them together to form a harmonious product. The lyrics seem metaphoric for finding the meaning of life, so in that case I think it's a good way to end the album. Though it's more mature and possible more experimental than the usual Beck, 'Modern Guilt' will certainly impress even the harshest critics (and I'm hard to impress). If you like any of Beck's earlier work, or you just discovered it, make the latest entry into your CD collection this. Let's hope this isn't the last piece by such a talented musician.

"But people like to say, Oh, it's in the blood. But art comes from nowhere. It comes from a vague, scary place. It's scary because you don't know when it's coming or if it will ever come again."-Beck

Video for Orphans

Beck's Official Website
Modern Guilt Site for the Album
Note: Second review in a day? I'm on a roll! Thanks Arnie for the review idea!


LisaK said...

Wow I just noticed 2 posts! Uber fab dblhawk! I was wondering about Beck - just one of those things where you never look em up. So not only is this a treat but your other post is about a band I do own a couple of CD's from.
Not sure if I'll go out and by a Beck CD but I might just listen online here and there. Sounds mighty retro.
Thanks for another great review.

Double Hawk said...

lisak:Does that mean you own a shins album or two? You'll be happy to know I'm going to review The Shins's most recent album soon!

LisaK said...

Yes I do own the album you reviewed. I do not remember the other one off the top of my head. Looking forward to the recent album review.

Arnold Layne said...

Reading this review practically sealed my fate in buying the album - I like Beck for the fact that he is so experimental, and that he IS the essence of cool. The only way I've ever heard Beck's creative genre described was Eclectic, and I don't think that lives up to his full potential.

Double Hawk said...

Arnie-I hope you buy it, it's worth it. Did you read the The Shins review?

Anonymous said...

WOW. Great write-ups. Love LK

Lily Hydrangea said...

I'm glad I finally got to read another one of your insightful posts DH, you never disappoint.
You always get me with at least one line in your reviews...'Volcano'(s) drum track at the beginning sound like the elimination drums on 'Project Runway'.
another great one DH. You seem to have an ear for really listening to exactly what is going on in the music world around you.
I like the Beck quote too.Though he probably shocks even himself with what he is able to accomplish, such a talented artist shouldn't worry. Then again maybe his thinking is what keeps him prolific.

Double Hawk said...

Lily: Beck is one of those musicians who never repeats himself, whether it's good or bad. Quotewise, I try to find something insightful, you know, something that helps you understand the artist a little better in that case, I agree with you. I'm glad you liked it!