82.) Beck - Sea Change (2002)
Beck has always been an interesting artist and one worth following, even if his tastes and constantly fluctuating styles can produce hit or miss results. But, it's hard to knock an artist so willing to take risks with his work.
It's silly to even discuss the influence Beck had over both popular and indie music by the time he released Sea Change in 2002. It was huge. He was responsible for Odelay, a record so good and important it should have it's own wing in the Hall of Fame reserved for game changers. He was massive and deservedly so.
In between Odelay and Sea Change he released Midnite Vultures which was a record best enjoyed at a party. Sea Change on the other hand is probably best enjoyed in the dark.
I remember listening to Sea Change the first time and being floored. I didn't know he had it him. This is the same guy who made "Sexx Laws?" I know it's overstated now, but Sea Change was a daring record for Beck to release at that specific time. Turned out, it was the only record he could have released at that time.
Our man is an artist, first and foremost and that's always come through in his work. As an artist, he makes music that he feels at the time and it's been widely noted that Sea Change came on the heels of a pretty tough break up for Beck. What could have been a self indulgent mess turns out to be just the opposite. It's affecting and poignant and sad and it never lets up. It doesn't give you a break. There's no samples or dance grooves to be found anywhere. It's a simple, acoustic record from a man who never suggested he could, or would even want to, make this kind of music. As sad as Sea Change can be it's never depressing, which is difficult for a project like this. It never made me want to cry. I actually enjoy listening to Sea Change.
Sea Change was Beck allowing his audience in, an audience he always kept at arms length. Prior to, and to a great extent since, Sea Change Beck's music, though great, could be construed as a bit cold. We didn't really know who Beck was. A white boy with soul and boogie who loved a good party, but that was it. Because of that Sea Change was a very brave record.
After Sea Change, which aside from Odelay is my favorite Beck record of all time, I decided he could do no wrong. Even if his records weren't going to be perfect from here on out he's earned the right to do whatever he wants and I will be there. I have and will continue to purchase every Beck record until he stops making them and if they continue to be as good as the last one, Modern Guilt, well then I've made the right decision.
Posted by Pat Driscoll