To start, this was not the Beck album I thought I was going to write about. I went into the morning happy to revisit an old friend, a sunny, chill psychedelic folk album that reminded me of gots lazy days and warm introspection. Well, that album was Morning Phase, an album I apprarently don’t own despite really enjoying. Instead, I have Modern Guilt, Mr. Beck Hansen’s brief but listless 2008 effort that starts promising but ultimately leaves almost no impression once it’s over.
Maybe I’m in the minority here. Rolling Stone had it in their Top 10 of the year, and Pitchfork gave it a respectable 7, saying it was better than his previous albums. And I’d agree with that; both The Information and Guerolito failed to hold up anything other than a cup of coffee so I wouldn’t leave ring marks on my table. And there’s a promising start to the proceedings – both “Orphans” and “Gamma Ray” hint back to the lo-fi indie mix-ups that made his earlier albums so good; “Gamma Ray” in particular has a 60s garage surf vibe that’s really appealing.
And then “Chemtrails” hits and the doze-fest really start to set in. And though I can’t vouch for any real connection, the notion of chmetrails as a popular conspiracy theory and the public knowledge of Beck’s affiliation with Scientology works to create a weird taste in my mouth that never really leaves, and never really appears with the albums of his that I like.
Oh well…I’ll always have Odelay. And Morning Phase if I remember to buy it.