Beck To The Future

Beck’s eleventh album, Modern Guilt, is a veritable symphony of surf riffs, distortion and reverb. It features ten tracks and clocks in at 33 minutes, just overshooting the half-hour goal. It moves away from Beck’s usual rattling, DIY sound and idiosyncratic lyrics.

His collaboration with producer/songwriter Danger Mouse means lots of electronic beats, electric piano, and even a keyboard bass. The record hangs somewhere between synth-heavy power pop and full-out surf. The result is a bizarrely futuristic retro sound. The words match the music in tone: a little smoother if melodramatic at times, and dreamy rather than surrealist. Modern Guilt is about our messed-up, sterile, paranoid, self-help society. All spun into incredibly fun rock’n’roll tunes.

Guilt opens with backwards guitars and some flute on “Orphans.” Next is “Gamma Ray,” unabashed surf song and the high point of the album, which leads into the slightly sour organ of “Chemtrails.” From here on out is smooth sailing right up to the last track “Volcano.”

My top picks are the aforementioned “Gamma Ray,” “Walls,” and “Profanity Prayers,” which features some killer slide guitar.

I, personally, count Mellow Gold as both the quintessential Beck record and his masterpiece, and I miss that Beck when I listen to this album. But aside from personal taste, there isn’t much to say against the album. Beck is, after all, well, Beck.

Lindsey Cull.