Beck – Modern Guilt

This is a big moment for me, as it means I’m almost done listening to Beck for a little while. It’s been a long run…early Beck inspired me to make music, then helped form how I interpret my urban surroundings and thoughts. Then I learned valuable lessons about knowing my place in the world, then I was really sad about girls, then a little less scared about aging, though that absence of fear gets a little fainter every time I obsess over my hairline. And finally we have this album. Basically, what sounds like a short (10 song) collection of outtakes from the last album. Only not quite, because some of them are better than some of the last album’s songs. There are a bunch of hard to place but old-fashioned sounding rock songs, one (surprisingly good) Aphex Twin-like electro-blooze thing, a sub-Kid A soundin’ electronish thing, and a sort of slow, sort of sad closer.

Only one song is actively bad (“Profanity Prayers”), and I’m a big fan of guilt (the modern variety is secondary to bodily guilt for me but at least he’s acknowledging it at all), but there’s also nothing here that turns my crank until it hurts so good. Ten songs. Nothing outstanding. Again feels like decline. I get a sense of what I’m supposed to get out of songs like “Chemtrails,” but it feels far away from what gets delivered. I don’t know, get the title track and pace your apartment singing it and pretend you’re The Modern Lovers.

Most people I know hate going the dentist, but I enjoy it. My teeth feel so shiny that I feel guilty the first time I eat afterwards. Most people I know don’t know anything about Beck, and maybe I like it that way. I guess, even though I didn’t care about this album and feel it’s a merely above-average product of an artist perhaps finally in decline, that anecdote about the dentist (not that it was technically an anecdote) is just my way of saying I love you, and maybe someday we’ll be nonsensically together in heaven, like Shannon and Sayid.



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