Morning Phase

  • Record Label: Capitol
  • Release Date: Feb 25, 2014

Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 46
  2. Negative: 1 out of 46
Buy On
  1. Mojo
    Feb 12, 2014
    It's reassuring that Beck Hansen can still pull an original record as substantive and absorbing as this one out of the hat. [Mar 2014, p.86]
  2. 91
    Morning Phase never sounds anything less than opulent.
  3. 91
    This isn't just good Beck, it's best Beck.
  4. Feb 25, 2014
    The result is a set that feels like an instant folk-rock classic.
  5. Under The Radar
    Feb 21, 2014
    It's his best album in that much time [decade], easily, and sure to be instantly beloved by fans who hold Sea Change to be his crowning work. [Feb/Mar 2014, p.71]
  6. Feb 18, 2014
    Beck proves once again here that he’s a tremendously versatile artist, capable of excelling throughout the musical spectrum.
  7. Feb 20, 2014
    With every track, Beck makes a statement, one that's overwhelming but oddly comforting. It's the need to be a part of something larger, a fear of being alone. And with Morning Phase, it feels like we're his lifeline.
  8. Feb 25, 2014
    Beck produced Morning Phase himself, and while that makes for a cohesive listen, consulting with another trusted producer could have coaxed out some of the freewheeling unpredictability that once characterized his music.
  9. Feb 25, 2014
    It’s not as good as Sea Change, but that it’s anywhere close--and it is--means it’s doing something right.
  10. 83
    Morning Phase makes for an interesting return to form.
  11. Mar 6, 2014
    There’s an eerie blandness to the mood that is initially off-putting but turns into a surprisingly compelling, subtly evocative combination of sadness and contentedness.
  12. Feb 26, 2014
    The wondrous sonic beauty of Morning Phase sheds light into Hansen’s otherwise absence of presence, so when the swelling, cinematic strings of Cycle open the record, it’s as if we’re surrounded by an omnipotent being coming down from the heavens.
  13. Feb 25, 2014
    It is a beautiful record, and maybe a little over-simplified at its weakest moments, straddling that line between clean and bare.
  14. The new album--Beck’s first in more than five years--has its own melodies and sonic palette. It’s even more fully dedicated to its draggy beat and diffuse sound than “Sea Change.”
  15. Feb 25, 2014
    No matter how enthusiastically some claim Beck as a zeitgeist-embracing pop chameleon of the Jean-Luc Godard variety, he's far more a craftsman of the Louis Malle school: sophisticated, assured, self-aware, and incessantly torn between competing genres.
  16. Feb 24, 2014
    He’s found the right sound for his disposition and, he resonates like crazy with that sound.
  17. Feb 24, 2014
    Morning beautifully captures what makes this album so rich: that delicate divide between grandiose and intimate.
  18. 80
    It couples a moody sort of glamour with a concrete feeling of loneliness, and it makes for some of the most affecting comedown folk you’re likely to hear all year.
  19. Morning Phase is an often gorgeous sequel to Sea Change, but it’s also more than that: it’s cheering proof that Beck isn’t ready to start repeating himself just yet.
  20. Feb 24, 2014
    That there’s nothing particularly ‘new’ about Morning Phase is by no means a fault: this is acoustic Beck, and it’s acoustic Beck at his most sublime.
  21. Feb 21, 2014
    While the earlier LP was harrowing in its soul-searching melancholia, Morning Phase is warm and soothing, its tone coming across as beautifully bittersweet rather than overtly depressing.
  22. Feb 20, 2014
    The record's sun-dappled shimmer suggests Beck sees a way out of his emotional hole. The bad news for him is that being in it seems to make for some of his best music.
  23. Feb 20, 2014
    Beck has always been hip. Even on his 12th album, he manages to make the dawn sound like where it’s at.
  24. Feb 19, 2014
    It might share some sonic similarities [to Sea Change], but it's an altogether brighter beast, built by an older, wiser soul who seems to have been taking a few years to work out exactly where he wants to be as an artist.
  25. Feb 18, 2014
    Gorgeously rendered but still ponderous, the album boasts a quiet strength that ultimately derives from the remarkable ability of its creator to deliver his grim sobriety with vibrancy and elegance.
  26. 80
    Given that Morning Phase reveals similarly raw honesty and engrossing emotion [as Sea Change]--plus bears the mark of superior penmanship gained by a decade’s more patience and wisdom, the album is poised to be revered as one of Beck’s most potent collections.
  27. Q Magazine
    Feb 14, 2014
    In short, Beck Hansen has properly re-acquired his mojo. [Mar 2014, p.106]
  28. 80
    It’s a much better album than Sea Change, just as immersive, but wiser and less indulgently wallowing.
  29. Feb 12, 2014
    Morning Phase is a terrific mood piece and a worthy follow-up, even if in spirit only, to Sea Change; it lacks the gripping unease of that album, but replaces it capably with genuine warmth and a sunnier outlook.
  30. Feb 12, 2014
    Morning Phase is a return to the lovelorn introspection of 2002’s ‘Sea Change’--in style, if not substance.
  31. Feb 12, 2014
    Deceptively simple, Morning Phase rewards repeated immersion.
  32. Magnet
    Mar 12, 2014
    Morning Phase is ultimately a mood piece: a quiet triumph of feeling over form. [No. 107, p.51]
  33. Feb 25, 2014
    Beck’s blend of acoustic instruments, twinkling percussion and wordless vocal harmonies feels weightless, evanescent, sometimes lovely. But when David Campbell’s strings make themselves heard, Morning Phase becomes something more than just a sequel to Beck’s best album.
  34. Feb 25, 2014
    True to his transformer's nature, the sequel is better than the original.
  35. Morning Phase actually matches Sea Change in melodic beauty, and it might even surpass it in production quality, but the cryptic, repetitious lyrics of songs like “Blackbird Chain” and “Heart is a Drum” fall so far short of the devastating heartbreak that Beck wove on songs like “Guess I’m Doing Fine” and “Lost Cause” that it’s impossible to see this record ever achieving the classic status of its predecessor.
  36. Mar 3, 2014
    I was hoping for a leap forward, but Morning Phase just feels like a very pretty place to sit and wait for one.
  37. Feb 24, 2014
    ‘Morning’ is stately in a hopeful sort of way; ‘Heart’ an uptempo standout that hints at the quiet majesty of Nick Drake in his ‘Bryter Layter’ period. Meanwhile the striking ‘Wave’ pits Beck’s vocal against a lush, sad string arrangement by his dad--but there are moments where the introspection slides into an acoustic torpor, too.
  38. 70
    Its attempts to live up to the bare-bones stylings of his last “folk” album fall somewhat short.... Still, the songs themselves are as strong as ever--this may well prove to be the biggest grower in Beck’s catalogue.
  39. Feb 18, 2014
    Sonically, it’s practically Sea Change Part II. Musical choices are almost identical—bells, swelling cinematic strings, ample harmonies--but Hansen’s voice doesn’t sound quite so sad.
  40. Uncut
    Feb 12, 2014
    Cumulatively Morning Phase can feel too consistent in mood and pace. [Mar 2014, p.65]
  41. Feb 12, 2014
    The abiding impression left from this album is one of comfort, not despair, which makes Morning Phase distinctly different than its companion Sea Change.
  42. Feb 25, 2014
    Not only does it uphold the myths of baby boomer greats like the Byrds, Neil Young, and Simon and Garfunkel with a staid type of reverence, but it also piggybacks on the legacy of one of Beck's best records. It's the sound of a rule-breaker dutifully coloring inside the lines.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 147 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 31
  2. Negative: 2 out of 31
  1. Feb 26, 2014
    Derivative, but so what? Beck's already told us this is a "companion piece" to Sea Change, and hipster outposts like Pitchfork are wonderingDerivative, but so what? Beck's already told us this is a "companion piece" to Sea Change, and hipster outposts like Pitchfork are wondering why this isn't genre-bending or outside-of-the-box (read: okay to name-drop yet barely listenable). A lush, timeless album devoid of wise-ass humor and pretense, and a welcome respite from the aural assault of modern life. An album that will start many of my days and wind down my nights this year. Full Review »
  2. Feb 26, 2014
    This album really grew on me over the course of a few listens. So much so, that I find that it has become my favorite beck album since seaThis album really grew on me over the course of a few listens. So much so, that I find that it has become my favorite beck album since sea change. I found it more interesting than sea change as well. Full Review »
  3. Feb 25, 2014
    A very warm record to wake up to that plays like one cohesive long soundscape. It's very consistent, great orchestration and production. It'sA very warm record to wake up to that plays like one cohesive long soundscape. It's very consistent, great orchestration and production. It's a real grower and invites me to play it over and over. Much easier to listen to than Sea Change for me, which was quite depressing and unsettling. Recommended! Full Review »