Modern Guilt

Modern Guilt is Beck’s greatest accomplishment since abandoning irony to pursue the somber side of his persona. Although it’s not the record for which he’ll be remembered, songs like “Chemtrails” and “Youthless” are his most memorable in years. The fruits of his paring with Danger Mouse ring loud and clear in the stinging bass and vintage snare drum in “Gamma Ray,” juxtaposed with the pop buoyancy of “Profanity Prayers.”

It’s hard to get a clear, emotional read on Modern Guilt. At just over half an hour, his cryptic hints at the ills of the world demand repeated listens. The album is an exercise in brevity that leaves a lasting but incoherent mood of psychedelic melancholy that’s positively cool and engaging as he tries to make sense of these troubled times. 4 stars.