Why Beck’s ‘Morning Phase’ Is Already Among the Best Albums of 2014
Last night (Nov. 25), Capitol Records head Dan McCarroll presided over approximately 100 or so people gathered in Studio A of the label’s legendary Los Angeles building to listen to Beck’s new album Morning Phase, scheduled for release this February. The follow-up to 2008’s Modern Guilt, Morning Phase is also Beck’s first for the iconic label, in line more with Capitol’s classic catalogue than its current pop moneymaker, Katy Perry.
For the album, Beck reunited the core players from his beloved 2002 album, Sea Change – Smokey Hormel, Justin Meldal-Johnson, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Joey Waronker – with the inspiration of making something “coming out of a California tradition,” as he told Rolling Stone recently. “I’m hearing the Byrds, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Gram Parsons, Neil Young – the bigger idea of what that sound is to me.”
Listening to the playback of the album, what we heard was all of that and more. While Beck has been quick to dismiss the notion that the new album is a sequel to Sea Change, Morning Phase does strike a similar mood throughout, rich with multi-tracked harmonies and warm, detailed melodies.
It’s easy to imagine Morning Phase hitting a new generation with the same impact that Sea Change galvanized listeners more than a decade ago. It’s the sound of surviving that tumultuous heartbreak, and being able to look back on it with more fondness than regret, older, wiser and through the forgiving patina of time.