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Modern Guilt

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iTunes Review

A compact 33-minute collection from Beck and producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton (Gnarls Barkley) that combines Beck’s shyest shoegazer tendencies with his interest in sonic manipulations, Modern Guilt manages to come across both modest and expansive. Its simple melodies immediately grip, while the production often drifts into dreamlike textures where haunting backing vocals (supplied in part by Chan Marshall, aka Cat Power) add to the supernatural glaze. Strip these songs of their eloquent beats and playful keyboards and catchy, clever folk tunes would emerge. Though he has played himself off over the years as a slacker prince / stoner with a strong stream-of-consciousness streak, Beck supplies his songs with plenty of quick wit and wisdom. But in the end, it’s the sound that counts. “Orphans” evokes the sweetness of the Beach Boys. The title track dips into a psychedelic waltz. “Soul of a Man” includes dive-bomb guitars and flirts with hard rock. “Profanity Prayers” attacks the dancefloor with a manic, rushed, overpacked subway car rhythm. “Volcano” ends things on a suitably restrained, downcast note. Beck expresses himself while hiding in plain view.

Customer Reviews

Not Fantastic

I'm an old school Beck fan - don't get me wrong, that doesn't plant me in the "The Information isn't as good as" camp - truth be told I hadn't bought a Beck album since Midnite Vultures, so it wasn't until I discovered that a new album was being released in a couple of weeks that I realised I had some catching up to do. Having all other Beck albums and after reading the reviews of both The Information and Guero I decided to go for The Information and was pleased with the album as a whole. As with most Beck albums it has (relative) low points and high points, and I take this as given for an artist who isn't afraid to push their own boundaries. However my favourite Beck album of all time is Sea Change as I think it really displays that when you strip it all down, Beck's actually just a really great songwriter and that's where I'm coming from (although by no means was I expecting another Sea Change). Unfortunately Modern Guilt's overall song quality in comparison is weak throughout, opting in my opinion to make the most of poor melodies by drowning everything in hollow reverb and the usual sonic-wall of sound effects. It does have a few good songs - well four to be exact - Modern Guilt, Youthless, Profanity Prayers and Volcano all stand up as good songs in their own right, but still don't justify purchasing the album. Unfortunately despite wanting to say different if I'd heard this before I bought it I wouldn't have bought it. Never mind the reviews, this albums neither "True Genuis", "groundbreakin'" or "Impreesive", its just not very good. Beck is a Genius, but this album isn't a return to form by any stretch of the imagination, it isn't even ON form - buy a different one instead.

Another flawless album!?

Modern Guilt is an album that at first I felt had a couple of great tracks but was overall a non-event. Being the hugest Beck fan I know I felt the twinge of disappointment, but I should have know better. With The Information I at first hated the album but with a few listens I found genius in every track and it became my favourite of his albums, so I should have had more faith this time around. Every track in this album is a winner and just like The Information Beck has found his form and refined it whilst retaining the ability to sound unique and experimental beyond anyone else. This album is simply a must buy!

Incredibly accessible album: 9.5/10

Having heard the cut down version of chemtrails on his myspace weeks ago, Beck's 2008 LP had alot of expectations to overcome. No doubt chemtrails is one of the best numbers on the album, but as a whole, the job is thoroughly impressive, mainly because of the fact that it works on so many levels. Highlights include Gamma Ray, Walls, Replica and Modern Guilt. Not his best but definitely in the top three.


Born: 08 July 1970 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Initially pegged as the voice of a generation when "Loser" turned into a smash crossover success, Beck wound up crystallizing much of the postmodern ruckus inherent in the '90s alternative explosion, but in unexpected ways. Based in the underground anti-folk and noise-rock worlds, Beck encompassed all manner of modern music, drawing in hip-hop, blues, trash rock, pop, soul, lounge music -- pretty much any found sound or vinyl dug up from a dusty crate -- blurring boundaries and encapsulating how...
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