Beck

Modern Guilt
(Interscope Records)

Danger Mouse is arguably the most adventurous producer to tackle a Beck project since the Dust Brothers helped birth a 1996 baby called Odelay (the Dusters' return for 2004's Güero doesn't count). The resulting sound is satisfyingly dense and intricate; the neo-surf of "Gamma Ray," the delicate psychedelia of "Chemtrails," and the juxtaposition of chamber pop and drum 'n' bass on "Walls" are particularly noteworthy. But despite its unusual touches, the recording gives off a somewhat musty scent. The production tends to overshadow the compositions, and the recording as a whole feels slight (the running time tops out shy of 34 minutes). Besides, it's mighty difficult to re-establish one's avant-garde credentials by looking backward a dozen years — because the cutting edge has moved since then.

 
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