Modern Guilt by Beck

Beck's been working since he was four years old. He's done it all. His life story is almost as interesting as the man's music, but I've never been one for celebrity worship, so let me pick an album and talk about it instead. Modern Guilt is a fine place to start expanding your Beck catalog (if all you happen to know is "Loser"); it's short, it's direct, and it's another foray into an entirely different style than anything he's done before. This time, it's 60s pop, which isn't totally new for Beck ("The New Pollution" was at least worth an Essential slot on Odelay), but it's the first time he's gone at it directly. With Danger Mouse in tow (though thankfully staying around the edges), the results are pretty appealing.

More than a few tracks on Modern Guilt see Beck embracing the low-end; "Orphans" starts with bass, "Chemtrails" is guided by bass, "Soul of a Man" might as well be bass. There's a certain rumble to the sounds here that only a few tracks (see the single fodder "Gamma Ray") betray, and it's only made better when these tracks bounce, as the title track and "Youthless" do. Because this is Beck, traces of other genres find their way in on occasion; "Replica" is practically IDM, and "Soul of a Man" and "Profanity Prayers" borrow in equal numbers from blues. These are all very much positives, by the way. Honestly, this record sounds French. If a half hour of Beck sounding French and singing about falling into volcanoes over bouncy beats sounds appealing to you, give this a shot.

(Also, the drum performance on "Chemtrails" is the best fucking thing you'll ever hear. That alone is worth the price of admission.)

Modern Guilt

Essential: "Chemtrails", "Youthless", "Profanity Prayers"
Quintessential: "Modern Guilt"
Non-essential: "Gamma Ray"

Rating: Great
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