Monday, July 14, 2008

Beck's Modern Guilt

"I'm tired of people who only want to be pleased/ But I still want to please you," sings Beck on closer "Volcano". It's the most personal song on the album, where the alt-rock journeyman stunningly conflates his own troubles with those of the world at large. In his heyday, Beck seemed to please everyone by pleasing himself-- each new genre excursion was met with new fans and a fresh appreciation for his limitless talent. Now things don't come so easy. "It's harder and harder to write songs these days," he told The New York Times last week. "I'm always slashing and burning, going, 'Is this too on the sleeve?' But if you're not up front like that then you're hiding behind something, so it's a real maneuvering." With its off-the-cuff cover, brevity, and ramshackle feel, Modern Guilt comes off like Beck's attempt to outrun those songwriting complications. But the reluctance to break with his own conventions is still evident. The album ends with a look ahead: "I don't know where I've been, but I know where I'm going/ To that volcano/ I don't want to fall in, though/ Just want to warm my bones on that fire a while." It's a cautious prophesy-- maybe too cautious.
Wow, "outrunning" the songwriting "complications". I think you have to embrace the Muse, not run away from it... Full review of the Beck joint here...

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