CD: Beck, Sea Change


Beck's mid-1990s records were thrilling because from one song to the next, you didn't know what style or sound he would throw at you. But the seductive mix of slipshod hip-hop, metal, country and soul on Mellow Gold and Odelay left him in a difficult position: how does a music so disparate yet so idiosyncratic evolve? His solution has been to narrow his focus, concentrating on deep-fried funk on 1999's Midnite Vultures, now switching to expansive, melancholy, psychedelic folk balladry for Sea Change. There is no denying the beauty of his paeans to lost love, of his father David Campbell's assertive washes of silken strings, of the plaintive slide guitar and producer Nigel Godrich's muted electronic touches. Submerged deep in the acoustic melodies, Godrich's intriguing burrs and squiggles provide the only element of surprise in these songs; otherwise, they drift somnambulistically into each other. There is no sense of electrifying invention here, merely a songwriter perfecting his craft. Sometimes, that isn't enough.


Maddy Costa

The GuardianTramp

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