Long gone are the days of Beck’s quick-witted, ironic raps over pseudo hip-hop tracks like “Loser”. Instead, Beck has replaced that self-image with a musical style that is much more frank, vulnerable and folkish. His new album, “Morning Phase” projects a message of hopefulness and honesty in a void of musical and real-life uncertainty. The opening track, “Cycle” is a thoughtful symphonic overture that neatly transitions into “Morning”, the title track of the album. The opening lyrics of the song where Beck sings, “Woke up this morning, found a love light in the storm”, perfectly sum up the blissful optimism with which he approaches this album, although you cannot always tell from his perfected monotone.
While many people agree that Beck winning Album of the Year at the Grammy’s this year over Beyonce and Sam Smith was incredibly unorthodox and unexpected, there are many songs on “Morning Phase” that merit such high praise. One particular, hard-hitting title is “Blue Moon,” which showcases his honest insecurities about love and being alone. The beating drums are laid over by acoustic guitars, an “oooOooh-ing” chorus, and an anxious Beck painting the scene of an unrequited love in the night. No one can forget the catchy and reassuring melody of “Heart is a Drum” that lets us know that we are not alone in this vast universe. Despite the various troubles we face, we can rest assured that the “heart is drum keeping time with everyone”. While it is sung in his characteristically monotone, the beat reaffirms that time will go on long after our troubles are over.
Strikingly, the optimism and the monkish nirvana of this album is not something I ever expected from an artist who is used to rhyming gibberish. More importantly, this is not another album that celebrates teenage and young-adult angst. Instead, it challenges us to look within and channel that angst into a positive outlook on unfavorable circumstances.