This afternoon, DiS popped over to the XL offices in Ladbroke Grove, West London, to have a listen to the new Beck album Modern Guilt, which will be released on July 7th. Artwork, pictured above and the very first press reaction to the record below...
DiS was left in a room covered in M.I.A. posters and the stereo cranked out this Danger Mouse-produced album for 33 minutes. That’s 33 minutes. Short, yes? Here’re our first impressions…
Throbbing bass, cheeky skittering hand-clap riddled hip-hop drums and lush Beach Boys backing vocals courtesy of Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power.
Random lyrics: "Fighting the fire with your bare hands... A grain of summer in your hand..."
Tumbling like a rolling in a barrel muddle of Television's jagged edges, shoegaze-swooping backing vocals and a little bit of that post-Beastie Boys stuff we’ve come to expect from Beck.
Random lyrics: "Come on little Gamma Ray, you're standing in a hurricane..."
Pace drops with lots of floaty “aaahhh-ahhhhh”s from Mister Hansen and Cat Power, drifting along nicely before tumbling in a Beta Band kinda way with a waft of Flaming Lips. You’ve probably heard this one already, but if not visit myspace.com/beck. We might be wrong but this album version seems longer than what’s been on Zane Lowe’s show.
- Modern Guilt
The title track kicks the pace back up with a Beatles-y waltz with little digital flecks and squalls rummage their way in amongst the dum-dum-DUM-dum...
Random lyrics: "I'm a pawn piece in the human geee-noo-ome…"
Video: 'Modern Guilt' live at the Echo in LA, June 9
Opens like Justin Timberlake and the bass grinds like a vanilla ‘Milkshake’ ‘til some Kraftwerk keys come dripping all over the place like the record’s about to turn into a Fabric remix album. It’s easy to imagine The Field doing an amazing remix of this.
Random lyrics: "My body can't get no relief…"
**Video: The Field, _‘Over the Ice’ _ ** ---
Sounds like a single. Somewhere between the glossy-dirty shuffling of OutKast's _Stankonia _and something the Police might've done.
Random lyrics: "Hey, what you gonna do, when there're bombs falling down, falling down on you..."
A slightly downbeat affair, but with more rapid, skittering drums. Like much of the record so far everything is cut and pasted so quick that it hits like Kid606 or Squarepusher. Think_ Kid A_ off his tits!
- Soul of A Man
A riff romp. Imagine a supergroup of The Stones, The Roots and Queens of the Stone Age, kickin' it like Run DMC never happened.
- Profanity Prayers
More robotic, but still with drums chasing a runaway train and big woo-doooh-oooohs giving this distorted party jam a chorus before it breaks down to acoustic guitars, before picking back up like this:
*Video: Brakes, 'All Night Disco Party' *
No sooner has it seemed to have got started, it ends. ‘Volcano’ is a ballad, a little like a cranked-up track off of Sea Change with little static-y pips amongst the beats.
Random lyrics: "It must be illusions that keep me alive… There's a ghost in my heart, that's trying to see the dark"
In conclusion: the record does sound great, with lots going on - far too much to take in on a first listen. Beck and Danger Mouse have done themselves proud. Expect some of the sound bite reviews in music mags to call it "The Neon Album", and we imagine the record will be mashed into many new shapes and forms on The Hype Machine before too long.
Beck on MySpace, here.