Vote Here and Now for Best of Cleveland 2017®!



With the Flaming Lips. Friday, October 25, at the Palace Theatre.

  • Beck
The reams of ecstatic reviews that followed the release of Beck's despondent Sea Change are all deserved, except for one major caveat: The disc's sea of salty tears is no truer an artistic expression than the web of artifice Beck once spun to earn his fame. If anything, Beck's confessional outpouring in these uniquely troubled and uncertain times feels a bit deceitful.

That might seem like a contradiction, but then, Sea Change is built on contradiction: The widely published rumor is that Beck was moved to bare his soul after having discovered the unfaithfulness of his girlfriend, yet the subtle and keenly detailed Sea Change isn't a product of emotional despondency, but rational handicraft. There's nothing wrong with that -- the albums by John Lennon, Nick Drake, and Alex Chilton that it recalls were also masterfully constructed portraits of helpless despair. But for Beck, this move marks a retreat from a sophisticated level of honesty about his artifice, a level never quite reached by Drake, Lennon, and Chilton, not to mention legions of lesser heartstring pluckers lamenting their losses in coffeehouses and bars before and since.

In Beck's early days, he offered a glorious corrective to the pitfalls of self-pity, transforming the loser 'tude of Generation X into a sardonic badge of pride. But now he moans and mumbles in the style he once half-mocked, sounding like a cross between Eddie Vedder and the frog-voiced dude in Crash Test Dummies. To add insult to his sense of cosmic personal injury, Beck shortchanges one of his greatest talents -- putting surprising words together -- for the comforts of banal imagery ("There's a blue bird at my window," etc). In short, it's definitely worth going to the show to bathe in his flood of tears, but just don't be surprised if the crocodile grins.

Speaking of Previews

Latest in Livewire

More by Franklin Soults


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Capone @ Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant

    • Thu., March 23
  • Jay Oakerson @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Thu., March 23
  • Mike Armstrong @ Hard Rock Rocksino

    • Fri., March 24

© 2017 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation