Rewind: Beck- Sea Change

There are different types of a breakup. There is the mutual breakup, where both parties involved, decide it’s best to end the failing relationship amicably. This type of breakup, most of the time, is a foreseeable one. Whereas, there is one of the better known breakups, the “it’s not you, it’s me.” Which, truth be told, generally translates into “yeah, it’s you.” This is the one, that most likely, catches you off guard.  Now, as to which one of these Beck experienced before writing Sea Change is beyond me, but one thing is for certain, it hurt.

Before the release of Sea Change in 2002, Beck’s records were known for being a sort of sonic kaleidoscope—mixing pop, hip-hop, indie-rock, funk, and whatever else he decided to throw in them. But, on Sea Change, Beck dumped (no pun intended) all that and went into a full-fledged singer-songwriter mode. And, what he came out with was nothing short of a genuine masterpiece (at least to me it is).

From album opener “Golden Age” to its closer “Side of the Road,” Sea Change is a beauty. Its instrumentation—acoustic guitar, string arrangements, harmonica, keyboards, etc—is stunning. Not to mention, its heartfelt and gut-wretchingly intimate lyrics. Lyrics that, nine years after the fact, still hit with the same emotional wallop that I experienced the first time I heard them.

Suffice to say, everyone knows breakups suck. More succinctly, breakups suck when you have strong feelings, and a history with that other person. The thing is, no failing/or doomed relationship, is worth salvaging if as, Beck says in “Paper Tiger,” you’re “just holding on to nothing/to see how long nothing lasts.” It’s at that point that, there’s nothing left to do but breakup—regardless of the pain and suffering that will come.

Pain and suffering that, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m a teeny bit (trying to be nice here) glad Beck went through it, because, damn, this record wouldn’t have been this painfully beautiful otherwise.