on August 17, 2007
People blast this album by citing that Beck is trying to mature. This is not a case of maturation but a natural step in the musical genius of what is "Beck". Instead of maturation, this is the same kind of reinvention Beck has done in all is previous and later albums. One of the best parts of a new beck album is that it will be different but as wonderful as his previous works.
And that's what this is: wonderful. I bought this after falling in love with Beck's previous album, "Midnight Vultures" - the opposite of this album. While "Midnight Vultures" was loud and obnoxious (in a good way), "Sea Change" can be described by a title of his first album, 'Mellow Gold'. Sea change is a soft ride that ends up breaking your heart and lifting your spirits before it's through.
I read somewhere that this was inspired by a recent break-up from a long term girlfriend. You probably could have deduced that yourself if you listened to this album. With that said, this album is stunning and not emo goth kid "I hate my life" depressing fodder.
The emotion in this album is beautiful. This is due to the mix of Beck Hanson's monotone and deep voice and ambient backing music. Despite being criticized for that voice in the past, it works perfectly here. The flow and melody of this album is perfect for its type and no song seems misplaced.
I can't see anyone not liking this album. If you can accept that Beck varies his musical style with each record, you are sure to enjoy this album for what it is: unique and great in its own right. Remeber that you probably wouldn't be listening to "Sexx Laws" off 'Midnight Vultures' if a loved one just died. In the same way, your not going to be listening to 'Sea Change' while drinking beers with your friends.
on January 11, 2004
There are some albums that when you listen to them sounds as though they're trying to bust out of the two speakers they're confined to: "Dark Side of the Moon," "SGT. Pepper" and "Sea Change" all fit neatly into this category. So this 5.1 mix would seem to be the perfect extension of the CD and it almost is. The separation is excellent and I'm presuming that most people who buy DVD-Audio discs are buying them for the surround mixes and not because they are audiophiles with 96khz DVD-Audio players...I'm talking about the Dolby Digital section of the disc. The thing I love the most about music in 5.1 is that it allows for so much space in the music instead of having the feeling that the two speakers in front are are "packed," and this album certainly breathes a lot better in 6 speakers. So the separation is great, but the effects are very sublte, especially after listening to the triumphant "Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots 5.1," but this is a sublte record and restraint is necessary. Still, there are a few key opportunities to swirl some effects around your head that are overlooked in favor of keeping effects and texture in the rear and the main music confined to the front speakers, with the middle speaker, appropriately, underused. This is not to say the mix isn't fantastic, because it is, the back speakers keep you submerged in noise and bleeps while the acoustic guitars and voices remain strong in the front and the LFE bass channel is ballsy. A few times it seems as though Beck's vocals are bobbing in a sea that flows front to back, back and front and these moments are particularly effective.
Complaints are that, even though 6 of the songs offer videos with 5.1 mixes, in order to listen to the album in sequence the only visuals are the track list which is about the most disinteresting thing I can think of, the album cover on the screen for 50 minutes would be much more pleasing. In addition, the tracks don't appear in the DVD display, so if you shut off your TV you can't tell what song is playing. These are minor complaints, but you know, after being spoiled by the YOSHIMI disc I look at DVD-Audio in a whole other light...It would've been nice if Elliot S., Nigel G. or Beck himself had added some notes on the 5.1 mixes also, but we can't expect too much.
As an ending side note I would like to add that the 5.1 mix of this record led me straight back to the stereo mix to investigate the differences and I feel the need to comment on how great that original record was produced. The 5.1 mix is really an extension of what Nigel Godrich was doing and a more enveloping stereo mix I've not often heard.
on June 8, 2004
this is beck at his finest hour. many people have been hesitant to call it a classic but i feel no shame. this is about as sad as it gets. but not in an angst sort of way, but in a "i miss you" sort of way. getting dumped ranks up in feeling like crap modes up there with running over an old lady nun in front of your grandmother. that was to stress how crappy it feels. now if this happens to you, and God forbid it ever does, the best thing to do besides massive alcohol and/or drug consumption is Beck's "Sea Change" because the drugs and alcohol are just about equal to the slow melting country guitar strum to Beck's given up desperate voice. this is the ultimate in late night, head phone, eyes watering, memories racing, half drunken closing your eyes in bed records.
it opens up with a guitar that breaks the listeners heart with the song the golden age. "put your hands on the wheel let the golden age begin" suggesting an ironic title to a sad ending chapter of a new life without your loved one. 'paper tiger' and 'lonesome tears' play with horns that roll across your head via your head phones like waves of sound. 'guess i'm doing fine' is a trying to move on song and lost cause is great too. 'end of the day' is a great song too touching country lines jsut as 'the golden age' did. its all in your mind is awesome. already dead is great and has its great trippy keyboard moments. sunday sun is a blast of sunshine that is unwanted in my opinion because at this point your depressed about your own problems and if your not you feel bad for beck. 'little one' is a short epic that is more of a look back on all the crap you've been through. the last track, side of the road, is a song suggesting giving up and trying to move on. but by the looks at this album and your own feelings after listening to it, you'd rather enjoy the music than move on because listening to beck is hell of a lot better than your buddy's break up advice of video games and porn.
on May 30, 2004
Don't be fooled by the somber threads weaved through Sea Change. Beck's best release, to me, succeeds in lifting spirits. All things are relative I guess though. I found myself listening to this CD non-stop through the hottest days of summer in 2003. It is the soundtrack to all those still and muggy driftful naps by the pool, watching the ripples of liquid air dance off the surface of the concrete. I have never really been one to pay attention to lyrics, so if Beck had a message, I missed it. I was too captivated by the melodies themselves, brilliantly interweaved with lush strings and washes of sound that sway, tip, and dance through the melody like a painter forming the semblance of a figure on a canvas with just a few thoughtful strokes. You find yourself mesmerized by the experience. Somehow, even now I just can't get sad when I listen to it. It's too interesting! Some may see it as sad, and choose to listen while curled up under the blankets with all the light out. It certainly lends itself to that type of endeavor. I choose to let it make me happy. An album with intelligence and utter creativity that doesn't get old. Listen to it on a really good sound system, or through a good pair of phones, cranked up. Enjoy!!!
on April 16, 2004
"Seachange" is different from Beck's previous album of mostly folk ballads, "Mutations". Previously, many of Beck's stylings were more self-conscious and detached. It seemed as if he was merely copying the sounds of his influences and not being entirely convincing when being heartfelt. But that changes in "Seachange". While he is known for his irony, wit, unique and actually fantastic worldview, this CD is not about that. It's about making Beck authentic when he cannot rely on his irony and humour. This can only help him as an artist. And here, the aching and yearning in his voice is real, and the songwriting and production have progressed greatly. I believe "The Golden Age" to be one of his most accomplished songs ever. And many tracks are dramatic and complex.
However, the theme throughout this CD, both musically and lyrically, is pretty much the same througout. The theme of disillusionment and the bitterness of lost love can seem depressing and monotonous, perhaps because it is convincing. Also, on some tracks, it sounds as if Beck has been listening to a lot of Nick Drake, and on these occasions he once again falls into mimicry.
But ultimately, this CD is a true coming of age for Beck. Those wanting more of his renowned diversity and shifting of styles, not to mention his absolutely unique take on the world, will have to wait. Though I see it coming in grand, spectacular fashion. In the meantime this is a certain Beck faze that is moody and mellow, but it has undoubtedly changed him permanently. Melodic and low-key, with polished production and deceptively simple instrumentation- this CD showcases one certain aspect of Beck. Though there is so much more. And that other, larger-than-life aspect of Beck, which in the past has been accused of being too clever and too insincere, gets a major dose of reality from this CD.
[I give this CD 4 stars, though I always want to give Beck 5 stars...]
on February 3, 2004
Beck's albums follow a pattern, at least so far. There are his fun, commercial albums ( Mellow Gold, Odelay, Midnite Vultures) immediately followed by his serious, more intimate albums ( One Foot in the Grave, Mutations). The order of release has been Mellow Gold, One Foot in the Grave, Odelay, Midnite Vultures, and Mutations.
Something you may not know is that when Beck signed on with Geffen Records, his contract stated that he had permission to release any album deemed non-commercial on a smaller label (as he did with One Foot in the Grave, which is carried by K Records). However, his next "non-commercial" effort, Mutations was deemed to be potentially commercial by Geffen and they decided to keep it. And now that Beck has become a star whose fans will follow him anywhere, any Beck album is potentially commercial.
Following the accepted pattern, his last album was the millenium party album, Midnite Vultures, which he wanted to make the most fun he could, so guess what? It's depression time. Deep, deep depression time.
Beck is truly an artist not afraid to test himself and use all of his influences to their fullest extent. The majority of Sea Change was written after the breakup of Beck and his longtime girlfriend. These songs just drip with sadness and resignation. Similarities to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson songs will be immediately apparent, and these songs have the definite potential to last just as long. But the surrounding content is pure Beck, especially the little touches that he and producer Nigel Godrich have added like the distortion at the end of "The Golden Age."
He starts us off on a positive note, "Put your hands on the wheel, let the golden age begin," but immediately veers into negativity with comments like "the sun don't shine even when it's day." In "Guess I'm Doing Fine," for which his decidedly non-boyish voice is perfect, he uses his ironic sense to come up with lines like
It's only lies that I'm living
It's only tears that I'm crying
It's only you that I'm losing
Guess I'm doing fine.
His songs are much more personal than most of us are used to, and I expect that this will put off some people, especially those who know Beck only through Odelay and Midnite Vultures and their songs like "Where It's At" and "Sexx Laws." But, contrary to them, I find that this appeals to me in much the same way that Mutations did (and still does), it gives me a chance to see the man behind the music.
Often the production of a song can hide its true nature, covering it with beeps and whistles that have nothing really to do with the original song. The slight "coverings" that Beck and Godrich have given Sea Change merely serve to enhance the songs' moods and emotions, just as they did on Mutations.
I realize I am comparing this album to Mutations a lot. But while they and One Foot in the Grave are similar in form (roots-based, intimate works with little tweaking), Sea Change is really more of a parallel journey with the same starting point but a different destination. Sea Change is proving to be my favorite Beck album yet and I look forward to his next efforts more so because of it.
on January 29, 2004
Beck has joined Mark Lanegan as a co-conspirator in delivering sorrow and reflection upon our loveless lives. All the hurts are there. The relationship gone bad, the enmity towards the world. After lsitening to this, i felt an odd craving for a 40 ounce bottle of Jack Daniels to help me see the world in a more positive light! Seriously folks, this is depressing stuff. Becks sadness can be felt on every note. Every string hits a new tone in despair. This recording just reeks of it. The production is top notch. The running order of the songs is irrelevant. Each track is one tug at the heartstrings after another. This album is a gloomier and darker version of 'mutations'. If those two records were made in the same house, One was by the big window in the living room with the sun shining in (give or take a dark cloud or two such as 'nobodies fault but my own') and the other was done in the basement with dripping pipes and flickering lightbulbs. Guess which spot this record was done in?
Especially coming after the upbeat feel of 'Midnight Vultures', this album is a slap in the face to love, hope and happiness. I think Beck needs to go out there and spend those millions and make his pain go away. Or maybe not. I kind of like the music better this way. Good stuff but if your heart is already gloomy, this will slay any remaining hope you may have. 'Round the Bend' might just be darkest day music has ever known.
on January 24, 2004
When I found out that Beck's latest album "Sea Change" had come out on SACD, I thought that it seemed like a somewhat unlikely candidate for the SACD treatment. But considering my affection for Beck and the fact that I am a big fan of SACD, I went out and bought my 2nd version of Beck's latest effort, even though I really hadn't been that fond of this particular CD! I favored his earlier work, like Odelay and Midnite Vultures, but the idea of hearing Beck in SACD was too tempting.
After the first critical listen, when the bitterness of spending extra $$ for a duplicate CD began to fade, I began to notice how incredibly kickbutt it was. Wow! This by far my favorite SACD so far and I have most of the major ones, including Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Police, Bowie, Elton John and the Who's Tommy. Sea Change is by far the most immersive and takes the best advantage of multi-channel sound. It truly is a symphonic experience. The SACD completely opens up the album and creates a three dimensional pallette. It's the difference between experiencing it or simply hearing it. Every instrument is so clear and has a depth and range that is completely missing on the original cd. It's hard to explain, but well worth many repeated listens. While each of the other SACD's I mention above are of the greatest audio quality, Sea Change trumps them by creating an experience that seems to have been made for an SACD. Plus, Beck has always been an impeccabley produced artist. Until a better SACD experience surfaces, Beck's Sea Change reigns supreme.
on January 20, 2004
Some say that an artist can produce some of their best work, when in the thrones of a Relationship Break-up.....Judging by Beck's "Sea Change" album (written after a long term relationship ended), there appears to be some truth in the claims. Ditching his usual sonic diversity highlighted in albums such a "Mellow Gold" & "Odelay" (which took virtually every musical style & the kitchen sink for a sumptuous musical feast).....Beck went back to basics and crafted deeply intimate & Emotional Love songs. The Bittersweet sounds of pain & regret are clear for all to see in this quite wonderful album, This album feels as if Beck is sitting with the listener, and singing to each one individually!!.....So much so!!, that two listeners appreciation of the album can invoke different responses....with acoustic guitars & String arrangements interwoven, with Beck ever so Slight vocals, to creates a fundamental richness in the music, to exemplifies Beck as a musical genius, and a singer/songwriter par excellence. Yet it should be noted that anyone looking for a continuation of his previous albums will be sorely disappointed, as their is none of the eclecticism that defined his previous work. These are heartfelt singer/Songwriter songs, high on emotional attachment, and low on catchy hooks, and if you enter into this album with those facts in hand, this album can't possibly disappoint.
on January 12, 2004
Any criticism of this album for "not being Beck" is not only totally unfounded, but actually ridiculous. How is Midnight Vultures "Beck" if Mutations is also "Beck?" Those two albums seem as different to me as any other two you could name, yet both are Beck, and both are brilliant. As is "Sea Change."
If you don't like it, say so; don't blame it on it 'not being Beck.' Morons.
That said, this album is one of the greatest, most touching pieces of work by any artist, bar none, that I have ever experienced. The sheer beauty of the background tracks lulls the mind into a reseptive state, and locks it into the spirit of Beck's poignant lyrics. The pain in his voice, which is uncharacteristically raspy in this presentation, is palpable, and contagious. Listening to this record is a cathartic experience for both audience and performer.
Aside from anything else, the music is beautiful, and filled with emotion. The arrangements are good. The lyrics are catchy, yet subtle and thoughtful. It is everything that makes a good album.
Buy it. You'll be glad you did, once the tears dry.