Beck Modern Guilt

Leave it to Beck Hansen to make the past sound like the future. On the remarkably consistent Modern Guilt, visionary producer Danger Mouse (he of Gnarls Barkley and the infamous Grey Album) injects masterfully saturated production into Beck’s retro-futuristic songwriting. Leadoff single "Chemtrails” sounds like it could be a lost track from Caribou’s Andorra, right down to the keening vocals and otherworldly atmospherics. The somewhat more accessible "Gamma Ray” pairs a hummable melody over an infectious go-go beat. The title track is about as straightforward as the album gets, before retreating into more delectably spacey oddities. "Replica,” a song that borrows heavily from the sounds of jungle DJs from the early ’90s, somehow offers fresh relevance to a dated sound, and penultimate track "Profanity Prayers” is a testament to the strength of Modern Guilt. It’s probably one of the finest tunes he’s ever penned, inexplicably buried at the tail end of the album. The whole thing is over too soon, not just because the record clocks in at slightly longer than half an hour but also because every last track is worth hearing. This is one guilt trip you won’t mind taking again. (Universal/DGC)