Beck – Sea Change


1. More like Sea Same!

2. Why does he look like Michael Cera in the album cover?

At least Michael Cera has that cute virginal quality to him. And he’s Canadian, so points for that.

3. The songs that sound like Radiohead bother me for their plagiarism (ie. “The Golden Age,” which sounds like the glockenspiels of “No Surprises” with added guitar strums and “Karma Police”‘s ending, “Round the Bend” becoming “Pyramid Song” in its final minute). The songs that don’t sound like Radiohead bother me because they’re boring.

4. “Round the Bend” also features Beck doing his best Nick Drake impression but forgetting the emotion and brevity.

5. Robert Christgau nails it: “How painful the calculation to become sincere, how arduous the labor to find one’s ease. Nobody’s saying he isn’t talented, and there are some fetching tunes here. But when the most impressive thing about slow songpoetry is the string writing, somebody doesn’t have his heart in it ’cause he doesn’t have one, his dolor ends up as cold as his funk. For some that’s the idea–a little affectlessness helps the prettiness go down. But whatever irony diehards believe, emotion and intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive. Any argument to the contrary calls for active resistance.

That’s basically it, and before I completely invalidate this album’s existence, I’ll just cover the stuff I do like: “Lost Cause” abandons the pretensions to be other artists and is easily the most enjoyable song of the bunch because of it; there’s a fine bass bed and grandiose strings used in “Paper Tiger” that’ll be recycled for a much better song called “Think I’m In Love” off 2006’s The Information; the string crescendo at the end of “Lonesome Tears” (though no reason it had to suddenly start over and half-assedly crescendo again); and the dissonant harmonies presented at the end of the main riff in “Sunday Sun” is frankly the album’s brightest idea and because there’s some emotion in his voice during the chorus. That being said, the “ooh”‘s are kind of useless, especially with no melody to justify their existence and end up stretching a 3-minute song into dangerous 5-minute territories.

6. I understand the power of music, and breakup albums inspired by and made for breakups have a powerful effect on the listener – that other people more famous than you have gone through the same thing. That being said, there are better breakup albums that I would rather listen to, say Blur’s 13 and the Cure’s Disintegration. But not only does Beck’s breakup album not compare with previous ones, it doesn’t even compare with contemporary albums, say Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People.

These albums all understood what it felt like to be heartbroken (“No Distance Left to Run,” “Pictures of You,” “Jesus, etc.” and “Lover’s Spit” – one from each aforementioned album), but the difference is, those albums also knew that there were better things than wallowing in that emotion for an hour’s time (“Tender,” “Lovesong,” “Heavy Metal Drummer” and “Almost Crimes” – one from each aforementioned album).

7. Beck’s mission to become a serious artist is as laughable as his stuff as a non-serious artist. Except those were meant to be laughed at.


9 responses to “Beck – Sea Change

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