Beck, MGMT | Aragon Ballroom | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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When: Thu., Oct. 2 and Fri., Oct. 3, 7:30 p.m. 2008
Beck sounds more dour than ever as he surveys the wrecked global landscape on the new Modern Guilt (DGC)—observing the melting of the polar ice caps in “Gamma Ray,” referencing conspiracy theories about what’s really in jet contrails in “Chemtrails,” and describing the numbness it all leaves him with in the title track. Yet as dark as the lyrics are, it’s the most enjoyable Beck record since the equally forlorn but more sedate Sea Change in 2002. The songs are impressively lean and concise—they say their bit and wind down—but they’re prime examples of Beckian bricolage, combining disparate elements like flower-power pop and hip-hop breaks as naturally as can be. Coproducer Danger Mouse, who shares the singer’s love of 60s rock verities, probably deserves a lot of the credit—in fact, every time I listen to the record, I can’t help but imagine the songs sung by Cee-Lo, and in my head the Gnarls Barkley versions are better. But Beck does a fine job with them in real life too. —Peter Margasak

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