Opinion: Beck is back with one of his greatest albums yet


Megan L. Brown is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]

Megan Brown

For the past two decades and then some, Beck Hansen has made his music known for all genre-loving music fans. His latest album, “Morning Phase,” shows us just how brilliant he is, bringing in a late ‘60s and early ‘70s sound with a twist of majestic darkness. From his first commercial success with the 1993 song “Loser,” Beck has shown us appreciation and dedication throughout his music. Through all his musical endeavors, we’ve always seen brilliance, and that’s why he is one of the greatest musicians of our era.

Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker called “Morning Phase” a triumph because Beck has never been so focused. “The album speaks powerfully and directly, without gimmicks or puns, and it maintains a near-total gentleness. After listening to ‘Morning Phase’ almost fifty times, I can’t find a single thing wrong with it,” she said.

There are some similarities to his 2002 album “Sea Change,” which was one of his greatest albums ever. The folk rock is back. Many of the same players and themes as “Sea Change” are used on “Morning Phase.”

Beck called his latest album “healing” and “reckoning,” and you can tell from listening that those are true statements. When reviewing “Morning Phase,” Will Hermes of Rolling Stone said: “Irony doesn’t cut it anymore; truth, beauty and resolve are the best weapons.” The vibe of the album is relaxing and has several musical influences. Beck said he wanted to do more of a psychedelic and acoustic theme to his album, and you can see that on the track “Unforgiven”; there is a Pink Floyd feel to it. “Country Down” has a definite Neil Young influence and a country-folk twang to it, and it works. And Beck has always had a Nick Drake similarity to his music, and that’s where the beauty of melancholy music chimes in. Of course, Beck adds quite a psychedelic bleakness over the album; it’s definitely one to sit down and listen through again and again. There’s heartfelt lyrics, lively acoustics and gleaming instrumentals, and Beck’s soothing voice.

Throughout his career, Beck has made his music known by being a musical chameleon. He’s had an immense variety of music. From 1994’s “Mellow Gold” to 1999’s “Midnite Vultures” to 2008’s “Modern Guilt,” we’ve seen all the different phases of Beck, but he always been the same dedicated singer-songwriter we love. It’s true that music storytelling can take away the bad times, and that’s what this album does. It shows hope and light in the age of today’s music.

There’s a certain relationship a musician must have with his or her audience, and Frere-Jones said it best: “The relationship between the musician and the listener here is as simple as the outcome is intense; only the artist knows exactly how such an album is made, but only the audience can verify that it is perfect.” “Morning Phase” will definitely be one of the best albums you’ll hear in 2014.