Currently Listening: Beck's Morning Phase
Beck’s latest LP, Morning Phase was released in February of 2014, almost six years after his last full length LP, Modern Guilt. If you are familiar with Beck’s previous work, the first thing you will notice from the album’s outset is its striking similarity to the critically acclaimed 2002 release Sea Change. It is in no way surprising then that Beck enlisted the help of some of the very musicians that assisted Beck in recording Sea Change, nor is it surprising that a press release even calls Morning Phase a “companion piece” to the 2002 album.
The beginning of the first proper track on Morning Phase, “Morning,” immediately brings to mind the opening seconds of “Golden Age,” Sea Change’s opening track; however, it is there that the similarity begins to drop off. Sure, both Morning Phase and Sea Change are largely dominated by Beck’s acoustic guitar and vocals, and the production can even sound very similar at times, but throughout its duration, Morning Phase is swimming in a melancholic positivity that differentiates it from Sea Change and necessitates a listen from any fan of Beck’s previous work.
The two singles that have been released from Morning Phase so far, “Blue Moon” and “Waking Light,” are certainly the most memorable tracks from the album. At times, the songs can bleed together, a symptom seen with LPs that have a tight, consistent production throughout, but the standouts make themselves known. “Waking Light,” my preferred track of the two singles, is the last track of the LP. Its sweeping and optimistic tone stands in beautiful contrast with the understated, atmospheric feel of the rest of Morning Phase, and it certainly hits the hardest. It is a perfect choice to cap a very relaxing, tight album that reminds us that Beck remains one of the defining musicians of this generation.