It’s pretty well-established that breakup albums are often better than stuff written when the artist is loving life. Great art comes from turmoil and pain. Whether it’s Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen’s Tunnel of Love or Lyle Lovett’s The Road to Ensenada, heartbreak invariably results in a musician’s best work.
Beck’s Sea Change is no exception.
Beck is probably best-known for his alternative hip-hop, funk and rock-electronica (rocktronica?) stuff — songs like ‘Loser’ and ‘Where It’s At.’ And no doubt, those are great songs on great albums.
But Sea Change is something else entirely, and it’s the best thing he’s ever recorded. Awash in strings and moody keyboards, it’s a powerfully sad but sweet exploration of heartbreak. It’s also the most mature recording he’s ever made and, for my money, the album that truly elevates him to legendary status. Hipsters come and go but not many artists can deliver an emotionally resonant work of art on this level.
‘Lost Cause’ is among my favorite tracks on Sea Change. I love the ramshackle way the music surrounds the lyrics. I once read somebody describe it as the sound of a creaking ship adrift at sea and that description seems about perfect to me. And I love the sad vocals, just dripping with resignation.