Record Review

Phases and Stages


Sea Change (DGC)

Tears of a clown: After Überslacker Beck (Mellow Gold), Freak Beck (Odelay), Stoned Beck (Mutations), and Prince Beck (Midnite Vultures), is the world ready for Sad Beck? Everyone's favorite towheaded human jukebox is uncomfortably numb, but after all, "It's only lies that I'm living," he opines on "Guess I'm Doing Fine." (He's not.) But whatever the source of his crushing heartbreak -- one hopes it's not Winona Ryder who's done this to him -- he's managed to spin his tears into acoustic gold. Best of all, he does it without sounding pathetic or vengeful; instead, he comes across as detached, forlorn, and a little befuddled. Re-enlisting Mutations producer Nigel Godrich was a good call, as the Brit sprinkles a liberal helping of OK Computer fairy dust over the arrangements -- the (relatively) upbeat "Lost Cause" is a kissin' cousin to Radiohead's "No Surprises," and the layered "Little One" carries a hint of "Karma Police." Elsewhere, warm strings provide a salty counterpoint to Beck's wounded emotions, adding mystery and a hint of bile to "Paper Tiger" and a flickering sense of finality to "Round the Bend." One day he may be sufficiently healed to once again don the flash-dance ass pants, but in the meantime, Sea Change joins Weezer's Maladroit and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' By the Way on the list of beautiful-but-sad 2002 L.A. LPs. That energy crisis last year must've been worse than we thought.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Review: Holy Wave, <i>Five of Cups</i>
Review: Holy Wave, Five of Cups
Five of Cups (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Sept. 1, 2023

Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, <i>Emergency Leisure</i>
Review: The Bright Light Social Hour, Emergency Leisure
Emergency Leisure (Record Review)

Raoul Hernandez, Aug. 4, 2023

More by Christopher Gray
Margaret Moser Tribute: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones
That Margaret Moser, she’s a rainbow

June 30, 2017

Margaret Moser Tribute: Patricia Vonne
Patricia Vonne
Shine a light

June 30, 2017

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle