Capitol / Fonograf Records
Like a burst of brilliant light that overcomes the dark, Beck has returned with his first album in nearly six years: Morning Phase. He wasn't invisible in the years following 2008's Modern Guilt -- in fact, he was working on quite a few different projects, and endured a difficult time dealing with a spinal injury. Still, it was an unusual absence.
Morning Phase returns to the place we found Beck in 2002 on Sea Change -- he himself has said that the two releases are 'companions.' But even though both feature Beck in an introspective mood, this new effort isn't as, well, sullen. There are some dark moments, like the song "Wave," but they're balanced by the optimism of "Blue Moon" and "Waking Light," the album's finale.
Morning Phase is a song cycle, or could even be regarded as a concept album. It opens with "Cycle," a brief, celestial introduction. That sets the stage for "Morning," when the first light arrives, brightening the dark skies. The optimism of the new day is reflected in "Heart Is A Drum." Later on, another brief instrumental interlude, "Phase," slowly envelopes the listener like the warmth of the summer sun. It's all brought to a glorious close with the grand "Waking Light."
Beck's new effort is a sonically rich album, balanced between quieter, acoustic moments and soaring orchestral arrangements.