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Beck returns with 'Modern Guilt'

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Beck returns with 'Modern Guilt'



In this image released by DGC Records, the latest CD from Beck, "Modern Guilt," is shown. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/DGC Records

In 1994, Beck was a baby-faced 24-year-old riding into the sun on the coattails of his tongue-in-cheek funk anthem "Loser."

He's now a father of two, a husband and nearing 40. On "Modern Guilt," his aptly named eighth studio album, the singer sighs with the sentiment of a 21st-century man whose fantasies have lapsed into frustration.

Beck's last album, 2006's pop/hip-hop "The Information," hinted at this kind of existential anxiety in its lyrics, and 2002's sombre "Sea Change" showed that Beck was capable of serious introspection.

Produced by DJ Brian "Danger Mouse" Burton, one half of eclectic duo Gnarls Barkley, the new album fuses Burton's minimalist beats with Beck's bleak words. Tunes range from catchy to meandering, even with most songs pared down to under three and a half minutes.

"I feel uptight when I walk in the city/ I feel so cold when I'm at home," Beck intones on the uptempo title track, interlaced with electronic blips and understated guitar.

The album is at its best when the funk flies, dipped in Burton's blend of psychedelic loops and echoed riffs.

Environmental shout-out "Gamma Ray" sounds like Gnarls Barkley, propelled forward by a garage-pop refrain. "Youthless," despite its depressing lyrics, is all sophisticated funk, complete with finger-snaps and staccato strings.

Still, Beck's disillusioned words, as on the album's airy closer "Volcano," make one wonder how far down the blue-eyed troubadour can go.

"I've been walking on these streets so long/ I don't know where they're going to lead anymore/But I think I must have seen a ghost/ I don't know if it's my illusions that keep me alive," he sings.

Check out this track: "Soul of a Man" injects the album with its only splash of rock 'n' roll - a dirty, slithering bit of distorted guitar reminiscent of the garage duo the Kills. "Beat my bones against the wall/ Staring down an empty hall/ Deep down in a hollow log/ Coming home like a letter bomb," Beck sings against the fuzz.

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The album is reminiscent of old vinyl records as it is only 34 minutes


There was a good review of it in today's Los Angeles Times...will probably

pick up the cd tonight or tomorrow, as I like most of Beck's records.

Beck's playing his largest home-town show when he plays the Hollywood

Bowl this September.

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