Music Monday - Beck - Morning Phase
Good morning! To be fair, we’re still a bit groggy from Record Store Day. (The party lasts a while and we’re in brewing country, don’t judge us.) For sleepy Monday mornings, it seems completely appropriate to spin Beck’s 2014 album, Morning Phase.
If you compare Morning Phase to, say, Modern Guilt from 2014, you’ll notice there’s a distinct lack of electric guitar, exchanged instead for gentle acoustic. It's not entirely unheard of for Beck- Morning Phase's spiritual sibling, 2002's Sea Change- had a similar vibe. This is like Beck run through a warm, dreamy filter, and it’s really wholesome and pleasant. (Not something that can always be said for Beck! I'm looking at you, 1999's Midnite Vultures.) It brings to mind waving fields of golden wheat, or filtered light through green leaves. Cups of hot coffee, rumpled bedsheets. The only time that synthesized/augmented instruments make an appearance is in "Unforgiven."
“Can we start it all over again, this morning? I lost all my defenses, this morning/ Won't you show me the way it used to be?” is melancholy but tender, and really captures the spirit of Morning Phase. The chords might be upbeat, but the vocals have a sloping minor key to them, which harmonizes to make this super ethereal sound. Because this is Beck, I wouldn't ever commit the treason of saying this was a "folk" album, but the resemblance to one is uncanny. Given its pub date, 2014, that was pretty par for the course then. It was the time of Mumford and Sons dominating the airwaves with frantic banjo music and orchestral interludes, and a lot of other musicians took inspiration from folk acts.
As it turns out, the indie/folk hat looks pretty good on Beck. (Both the metaphorical one and the one on his head.) It's a bit bizarre to know the soulful croons of "turn, turn away from the sound of your own voice" also produced "Hot milk, Mmmm...tweak my nipple, champagne and ripple..." But that's a talented and versatile musician for you.
One thing to be wary of though is actually playing this album IN the morning. It’s so sleepy and mellow you might actually just want to crawl back under the covers for a while. Zzzz…