Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rock of Ages: Beck - "Chemtrails" (2008)

It's hard to believe we are finally here, the last two tracks. It's also a surprise that it took this long to arrive at the Beck song. He is easily the most influential artist on my life from my own era. I look far and wide for anything Beck related music wise. I've hunted down rarities, b-sides and live concerts that I've attended or that have a fantastic set list. When people ask "Why do you love Beck so much?" part of the answer is that his career has yet to dissatisfy me in any way. He may have had lackluster moments (ie. The Information) but for any of the lackluster, there has been massive high points (ie. every album from Mellow Gold till Guero and then of course Modern Guilt.) Which get's us to where we are today. 2008's Modern Guilt was the exact opposite of The Information. It's a short album with 10 tracks and doesn't get bogged down in excess. It harkens back to Beck's earlier career yet shows new direction in sound. The first track I heard from it blew my mind on many levels.

"Chemtrails" is a harrowing track that surges back and forth like the ocean tide. It's lyrics are stark and nihilistic. Musically it sways from Beck's falsetto and a murky, organ filled haze. As the chorus comes, the rhythm section comes to life. That's an understatement really as the drums come in full force like a crashing wave. The bass amps it up with a funky groove as the falsetto and organ haze carry over without noticing the bombast that swells forth. It goes back down for every verse until the end of the last chorus where strings, the intense rhythm and a guitar solo come together to make one of the most riveting Beck songs finalize in a fast drop off. It's a very surprising song that is easily the high watermark of Beck's career. Although not at all on the sillier side that Beck sometimes can be construed as, it's definitely more definitive of his eclecticism. It's Beck at his musically and lyrical greatest.

Up Next: The Final Track in the Rock of Ages Countdown goes to Portishead

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