The new album contains 10 new songs, and with the exception of last year’s Grammy-nominated, digital-only single “Timebomb”, “Modern Guilt” is the first new material Beck has written since the prolific stretch that produced 2005’s platinum Guero and 2006’s universally acclaimed “The Information.”
“Modern Guilt” is a tightly assembled group of songs that range in lyrical tone from introspection and social commentary to off the cuff wordplay and lighthearted humor. Musically, the album’s ten tracks vacillate between economy and experimentation, hybrid and pop classicism, while consistently manifesting Beck and Danger Mouse’s shared interest in psych-rock, folk, electronic minimalism and orchestration. “Modern Guilt” was produced with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton.
“Orphans” – A beautiful song that could have come from a ’60s greatest hits album by any number of peace-loving rock bands.
“Gamma Ray” – Beck takes on the destruction of the environment with surf guitars and the sort of spirit that doesn’t fit the message. Then again maybe it was his intention to take a pretty surf song to emphasis exactly what we might be destroying–the beauty of Earth.
“Modern Guilt” – For all the reasons why “Chemtrails” didn’t make the list of great songs–“Modern Guilt” does. This is the kind of song that you want to listen to over and over again–and of course sing-a-long to.
“Profanity Prayers” – A gorgeous song that once again taps into his rocking hippie side.
“Volcano” – This song could have opened the album–it’s a nice surprise to find it closing instead.
“Chemtrails” – This is a beautiful song–until you realize he’s singing about dead people and trying to sort out where they go. Yet, as beautiful as “Chemtrails” is, it’s not the sort of song that is high on my replay list. That gives me pause as to whether its a great song. Replay value should rank high on that list.
“Youthless” – This sounds like Beck doing a slacker version of a Justin Timberlake song. It’s interesting and cool and yet it doesn’t match the previous tracks sound or vibe.
Beck is the kind of artist that people either love or hate. It’s been quite a few albums since he’s really produced something truly worth buying and listening to from beginning to end. “Modern Guilt” is the cure to the so-so albums of Beck’s past. There are a few tracks like “Chemtrails” and “Replica” that don’t fit the overall vibe–and yet they aren’t bad songs. The only real complaint is that “Modern Guilt” barely clocks in over thirty minutes–that’s far too short. However short it is, if you kind of like Beck this is the time to get back on the bandwagon.If you love him you already own it.
Watch the album promotion video: