Analysis: Beck's New Heart

With Sea Change, Beck forgoes the 'Loser' of the past for a session with irony-free honesty. More power to him.

"Lost Cause" marks Beck's territory as a singular talent. It also bridges the Beck we used to know with the Beck we're now just getting to know. It sounds unsettling, with backward tape loops and altered glockenspiel and clavinet, and the lyric confirms that the song very much is: "There's a place where you are going/Where you ain't never been before/No one laughing at your back now/No one standing at your door/Is that what you thought love was for?" Again, we get the message loud and clear. Beck don't need no more mynah birds.

Inevitably, critics will bury Beck with accusations of losing his edge, that he's becoming conventional. Granted, they'll have ammunition: "Lonesome Tears," despite pretty strings, borders on high school drivel: "How could this love/Ever turning/Never turn its eye on me." Does anyone remember that even greats like John Lennon and Bob Dylan fell into this trap numerous times? Lennon dedicated a whole record to primal-scream self-righteousness. Dylan cried like a bitch over his divorce, converted to Christianity and, for a time, became as deep as Pat Boone.

Beck's break from his weird '90s stylings, then, falls into pop tradition, which makes it excusable. Perhaps future offerings will return with the beatnik disguise in place. The shift in gears, though, is a powerful one. This Sea Change erupts out of left field, and thankfully so.

"No more cinders from the sky": Beck loses the pose and gets really real on Sea Change.
"No more cinders from the sky": Beck loses the pose and gets really real on Sea Change.

Details

Scheduled to perform with the Flaming Lips on Thursday, November 21. Tickets are $35. Call 480-965-3434 for information.
ASU's Gammage Auditorium in Tempe

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