Beck - Morning Phase

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As Morning Phase is a slow, shimmering album deliberately in the vein of classic singer/songwriter LPs, it's easy to think of it as a pained, confessional sequel to Sea Change, the 2002 record written and recorded in the wake of a painful romantic breakup. Beck didn't shy away from these comparisons, calling it a "companion piece" to his acclaimed 2002 LP, and as "Morning" glimmers into view, sounding for all the world like "Golden Age," it almost seems as if Beck is doing cover versions of his own work. Morning Phase soon develops its own distinct gait, one that's a little more relaxed than its cousin. Crucially, Beck has swapped sorrow for mere melancholy, a shift in attitude that makes this 2014 album sweeter than its predecessor, a distinction sometimes distinguished by moments where words, traditionally the sadness signifiers for sensitive troubadours, are washed away by cascading waves of candy-coloured sound. Underneath this warm, enveloping aural blanket lie some sturdily constructed compositions - the haunting "Heart Is a Drum," bringing to mind memories of Nick Drake; the loping country-rock "Say Goodbye" and its sister "Country Down"; "Blue Moon," where the skies part like the breaking dawn - but the abiding impression left from this album is one of comfort, not despair, which makes Morning Phase distinctly different than its companion Sea Change.

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