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Beck Unveils <i>Morning Phase</i> Inside Legendary Capitol Records Studios
Beck Unveils <i>Morning Phase</i> Inside Legendary Capitol Records Studios

Beck Unveils Morning Phase Inside Legendary Capitol Records Studios

Exclusive: Beck unveils tracklist and previews new Sea Change-channeling LP, Morning Phase

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Beck is sitting in the iconic Capitol Records building when his first album in 6 years, 2014's Morning Phase, makes its public debut to a room of industry types, music supervisors, writers, and pretty faces in Studio A. Billed as a companion piece to the eternally classic Sea Change, it seems fitting the record’s premiere of sorts goes down inside a room first christened by Frank Sinatra, though now temporarily lined with rows of chairs, scattered couches, and of course, a portable back bar.

A boy-like image of the singer is projected onto a large screen at one end of the room with the Morning Phase title scrawled in some sort of stock font on a background that comes off looking like a treasure map, something Beck would later poke fun at, but for now at least, the focus remains on the music.

Unlike certain other long-removed sequels (Eminem's MMLP2), the comparison of Morning Phase and Sea Change extends far beyond the songwriting itself, from the musicians (the same bunch for both albums) to the sonics and textures. For instance, the album opener, “Morning,” feels like it might have been recorded on the same day as “Paper Tiger," acoustic and peppered with shimmering keys, Beck’s vocals even return to the gravelly drawl of his 2002 masterwork.

The album itself plays like a California drive, twisting and turning with an ever-present destination in mind, certainly drawing from the same reflective state as Sea Change, as Beck mentioned in a recent Rolling Stone interview. While introducing since-discovered new elements, he elaborated, “It was going back to the same place and seeing where we’re all at, like those Seven Up! Movies where they go back and see those people every seven years.”

Perhaps the most pleasant thing about the record is how truly organic it feels for Hansen to revisit that headspace, and how eloquently it’s executed. At no point does Morning Phase feel forced, contrived, or part of some greater Capitol marketing scheme. If anything, the album feels like an elusive late career fan favorite, with Beck sounding more vital than ever, even pensive while shedding the melancholy of his comparable work.

Stand out tracks include “Waking Light,” which listens like a revelation, majestic and slow burning, with waves of falsetto backing vocals giving way to a triumphant guitar lead. “When the memory leaves you / Somewhere you can’t make it home / When the morning comes to greet you / Rest your eyes in waking light,” he croons on the songs chorus.

Meanwhile, the freshly-debuted “Wave” acts as a turning point for the record, bathed solely in strings, arranged by Beck’s father, David Campbell (who rears his head throughout the collection’s 12 tracks). It’s a fitting title with the orchestral weight overcoming, swallowing, and even pushing you down with its grandiosity.

It’s late album cut “Blue Moon” that brings a pleasant rise to the record, proving that it’s when Beck is out of his element and exercising his range that he’s at his most brilliant, with soft ooh's bringing a sense of warmth to the Americana-tinged tune which tops out with a wondrous dotted synth melody before stripping back to bare bones.

At the culmination of the record, Beck himself made an appearance to chat with folks, showcase his new haircut, and thank everyone for coming. In the process, he helped us realize that while he never went away, it’s most certainly fantastic to have the man back in album form, and set to unleash Morning Phase this February.

While album art has yet to materialize, you can for the first time check out the full tracklist, as well as enjoy the live debut of “Wave," from Beck’s Song Reader performance with the LA Philharmonic over the weekend, below.

Morning Phase track list:
    Morning
    Heart Is A Drum
    
Say Goodbye
    
Waking Light
    
Unforgiven
    Wave
    Don't Let It Go
    
Blackbird Chain
    Evil Things
    
Blue Moon
    Turn Away

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