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Sea Change

Release Date: 09.24.02
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Didn't He Blow Your Mind This Time?
by: bill aicher

It's been nearly three years since we last heard from Beck, and boy how times have changed. 1999's Midnite Vultures was arguably Beck's funkiest album to date, the true follow-up to 1996's phenomenon, Odelay, the album which put Beck up as the poster-boy of cool. It was the sidestep of Mutations in 1998 that caught people off-gaurd, however. Here was an album from a man who few people really took seriously (other than as an inventive musician), who was putting out an earnest attempt at a "folk album." And, truth be told, it was (critically speaking) Beck's best work in his career.

Now, three years after Midnite Vultures and four years since Mutations, Beck has once again emerged from the little music place artsy rock stars go to hide, and has come back with his most depressingly beautiful album to date. Working with Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Travis, Beck's Mutations), Beck has managed to create an extremely moving, symphonic folk opus, well-worthy of attention as one of the most-important albums of 2002 (and possibly music in general).

In traditional Beck fashion, the music on Sea Change is a bit difficult to pigeonhole into a category. Sure it's a folk album at heart, but it's an electro-blip, symphonic string, depressive rollercoaster folk record. No, there isn't such a thing, I just made it up. (Actually Beck did, I just claim the genre name). Anyway, Sea Change has got hints of everything spattered throughout. There's some obligatory Dylan, electro-lounge ala early Radiohead and later Air, a splash of Bjork (Vespertine Bjork, not Post) and pretty much whatever else Beck decided to toss in. Basically it's a Beck album, but a really good, really laid-back, and really depressing Beck album.

By the way, depressing is good when Beck does it.

People looking for another good-time Beck release will have to sit this one out, but anyone looking for an excellently produced, low-key release couldn't do much better. It's not the album of the year, but it's the Beck album of the decade. And it's destined to be one of the folk albums of history.
25-Sep-2002 9:54 PM