For my money, Beck lost something when he revealed himself to be a Scientologist. Regardless of the quality of the lad's music, from that point on I found it difficult to entirely throw the full weight of my support behind his efforts. It was sort of like finding out that a good friend has an entire room of their house dedicated to the Princess of Wales or listens to the Electric Light Orchestra or something. Although this probably doesn't bother Beck in the slightest. I'm sure he's very happy living in that mansion, eating hot dogs all day long, Panda Cola and Cresta on tap, occasionally turding out another album of quirky backwards acoustic hip-hop country when the coalman needs paying.
Morning Phase is one of those albums recorded every five years or so when he gets fed up of quirky backwards acoustic hip-hop country and wishes to showcase his talents as a classically mellow songwriter, and it would be a great album but for the fact that he's already recorded it once before and it was called Sea Change. It's fine, all very classy and beautifully judged and that, bitter-sweet plicky-plucky slow, slow mournful songs with a ton of reverb and softly psychedelic percussion, but it all sounds exactly like the previous album which sounded like this, and it wasn't exactly what you would call a chuckle-fest first time around.
This is, I suppose, where I have to question what young Beck - or Donald Beck to give him his full name - is doing with his life, if he's still this fucking miserable despite all the Scientology and hot dogs. I mean it's okay, but the ambience of well I'm sort of happy, but I'd better slash my wrists because I expect this is as good as it will ever get becomes much of a muchness after the first three or four songs drift past like depressed teenagers with their shoelaces tied together, none of which is enlivened by the quirky backwards acoustic hip-hop country for which he is better known. In many ways, Morning Phase is a great album, just one that outstays its welcome even before you've listened to it.
Beck, my little son - for God's sake, cheer up. Have a fucking pie or something.