“Sea Change” is a sharp divergence from Beck’s previous albums and offers another dimension from which to view the musician. Most noticeably, it is almost entirely acoustic. There are no electric beats, no grinding guitar, just Beck singing and strumming. Strings and sound effects are used to accentuate the existing music, not mask it.
Unlike several of Beck’s previous efforts (most notably the 1999 “Midnite Vultures”), this album has a very somber, often morose tone. The song “Already Dead” contains lyrics like “Time wears away/All the pleasures of the day … Days fade to black/In the light of what they lack.” A majority of this album seems to focus on the pain that Beck has endured because of relationships.
That’s not to say that the entire album is a sad affair since “Sunday Sun” and “Little One” provide a sense of happiness (although this is accomplished through instrumentation, since the lyrics are still not exactly joyful).
The opening track, “The Golden Age,” is one of the best on the CD. There is hope even when things look bleak.
“Sea Change” is one of the most refreshing albums I have heard in a long time. Beck is so honest and open that it should shame plastic pop singers. The listener can feel Beck’s pain and, although not as often, his optimism. There is nothing fake about these songs, which is what makes the disc so incredible.
Be warned, “Sea Change” will not leave you smiling from ear to ear, but not all music is meant to be cheerful. Some music, like this, is meant to bring us down to earth. Beck has nothing to hide, which is fortunate for the listener.
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