"Sea Change" (Interscope)
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the wizard of weird and his latest foray into the world of twisted dreams, where Paper Tigers soak up the rays of the sad Sunday Sun and roar in whispers of melancholy. For the party animal of yore has stepped back and decided that all is not well and may never be again.
After the bloated purple homage of Midnight Vultures, Beck Hansen has written the perfect negative of that particular psychedelic puke-fest. Sea Change is a folk record of beautiful clarity, with enough contemporary sonic swirls to save it from retrospective purgatory. Whether it was a conscious decision to strip things down to their minimalist bare bones, or as a result of emotional triggers; this is a stroke of genius from the tripping troubadour of the bizarre.
Lushly subdued orchestral flourishes flesh out barely audible acoustic guitars on Round The Bend and you are forced to surrender to its narcotic romanticism. On Already Dead the poet sings with rare lucidity and honesty, of how "Days fade to black, in light of what they lack". Even with tabloid soiled stories of a failed romance with Winona Ryder, hanging like an unwelcome ghost over the album and in particular Lost Cause (Rumoured to have been written specifically about Ryder), the album still retains its fragile beauty.
If this is what heartbreak sounds like, then here's to cold women and shattered illusions the whole world over. 8/10
Reviewed By Mark Mason
19th of September 2002
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