Beck recently released a new track, harkening back to his days as a playful pop-funk mixmaster. That comes on the heels of his Grammy win for Best Album for Morning Phase, a somber and elegant meditation on mortality and lost love.
Let’s face it. The man can do pretty much anything. Even Kanye became a fan after initially threatening to protest Beck’s win over Beyoncé
Beck’s most recent album, 2008’s Modern Guilt, was his last required CD to fulfill his contract with Interscope Records. unlike athletes, who usually play their best when they’re in the final year of a contract (to better their chances of cashing in on the next one), musicians often release an album of filler to get free from the corporate reins.
Beck didn’t go so far as to release an album of B-sides or live performances but Modern Guilt does feel muted and lacking in inspiration. Even so, it received mostly positive reviews and holds together well enough as a collection of songs, just not as an album with a vision or purpose.
Throughout his impressive career, Beck has explored many, many paths — dabbling in funk, rap, tropicalia, metal, folk and psychedlia, just to name a few. He’s released albums I can dance to and albums that make me want to cry in my beer (ok, my Coke). What he hasn’t done, until now, is bore me.
Modern Guilt is not a bad album, by any means. I’ll go so far as to say it’s a good one. But it’s the first Beck album that hasn’t hit me as something brand new. Most of the tracks feel like B-sides to his earlier, better material.