By consistently pushing the boundaries of his own compositional vernacular, Beck has not only earned himself a reputation as the consummate innovator of the alt-rock set, but has outlasted the majority of his (initially) like-minded peers. Sea Change
is the diminutive songsmith's seventh album proper, and its startling brand of dreamlike space-folk, while reminiscent of earlier efforts like Stereopathic Soul Manure
, is a wholly unique venture. The pop-culture pastiches of Odelay
and the freaky-funk jams of Midnite Vultures
are mere dust on a gravel road, replaced by songs that rely on skeletal arrangements, sparse acoustic guitar work and Beck's plaintive croon to emphasize their maudlin perspectives on modern-day life -- think Willie Nelson or Woody Guthrie as opposed to Gary Wilson or Wendy Carlos.
Beck has evolved into an expert tunesmith in his own right; the dusty road elegance of "Sunday Sun" and "End of the Day" certainly isn't something you can fake, the subtle orchestrations of "Paper Tiger" are beguiling and beautiful, and there are times ("Lonesome Tears" in particular) when his timbre is eerily redolent of the late Nick Drake. While this is not exactly the party-till-you-pop Beck of previous releases, there's no reason to believe that this newfound, heart-on-the-sleeve mentality will be the end of his creative travels; it seems more likely to be another fork in the talented troubadour's already twisted and enchanted musical road.