Rhythm & Views


What about modernity changes the nature of guilt? What do we in modern times feel guilty about? These questions are definitely pondered lyrically on Modern Guilt, Beck's collaboration with producer Danger Mouse (half of Gnarls Barkley), but that's nothing compared to the guilt the record produces in me: I find the record downright boring, and it makes me question my own musical taste.

I can't even listen to it all the way through without losing concentration. Modern guilt indeed--I feel guilty for having a short attention span and for my ridiculous modern expectations.

This is Beck we're talking about--he doesn't make a concept album without knowing full well what he's doing. Modern Guilt is designed as a throwback album, even down to minimalist '60s cover art. Considering all of this, what if Beck's saying that the fact that we're devouring all of this '60s throwback stuff like starved bats is actually really boring? And he's saying this through really boring '60s throwback songs?

The record from start to finish doesn't make one single dynamic change: It's a shade of beige the whole way, with Beck's vocals muted, and Danger Mouse's sonic mixes blended into textureless gruel. Modern Guilt lets the listener hear what uninspired musical recycling actually sounds like, and it, like guilt, leaves a bad ringing in one's ear.

By the end of Modern Guilt, all I want is the innovative, post-modern Beck of Odelay and Sea Change and Guero--which, if you think about it, is pretty fucking brilliant on Beck's part.

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