Maybe you remember Beck? You know, the guy who busted onto MTV in 1994 and got us all to sing "I'm a loser" in no less than two languages? Well, he's put out quite a few albums between now and then, seven to be exact, which makes this his twelfth studio album.

Now very few people would argue against the notion that Beck's slightly, well, strange. He's definitely bringing an alternative style musically speaking and that's often been very hit or miss for me. Sometimes he gets even weirder than I particularly relish, but you'll be glad that this latest album, Modern Guilt, falls into the 'great' category.

For this record, Beck brought in an ironic pairing: Cat Power and Danger Mouse. Obviously, these two bring their own craft to the table and it all blends very well, working in Danger Mouse's musical genius with Cat Power's soothing vocals. Beck doesn't get lost in the shuffle at all and I'm definitely feeling the album the whole way through.

With a run time of a mere thirty minutes we get a solid record without a lot of filler. As the name implies, the album offers a good deal of social commentary on our modern world. What's better is that it backs up the lyrics with great music that's catchy on nearly every single song. That speaks volumes in and of itself, but we're still treated to Beck's unusual style of lyrics, a particularly good one being: "You got warheads stacked in the kitchen." These sorts of visual lyrics seem to be a Beck trademark and he doesn't skimp this time around.

Overall, the album feels consistent in pushing a somewhat melancholy mood without being downright gloomy. It plays like a walk through the city of you choice on a cloudy afternoon. In a few places it starts to feel nostalgic, calling up the ambience that made grunge famous - that listless, down-tempo reflection on one's place in a society that rarely acknowledges the individual.

You won't hear any "rapping" this time around, but Beck offers a wide range of vocal styles, each one suited to its particular song. Sometimes he's upbeats, other times he's drifting out across a sea of slacker pessimism. The end result winds up being an album that's neither too dark nor too light and pretty much perfect all the way around.

If you've been debating whether or not this CD's a good investment, my vote goes for the buy. Beck's brought a great deal of quality here and I feel it's music nearly anyone can get into.


Lyrics submitted by mike

Beck - Modern Guilt song meanings
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