Morning Phase

Morning Phase is the ninth official studio album and twelfth overall by American singer Beck.[7] The album was released in February 2014 by his new label, Capitol Records. According to a press release, Morning Phase is a "companion piece" to Beck's 2002 album Sea Change. Several of the musicians who recorded parts for Sea Change returned to record for Morning Phase.

Morning Phase
Studio album by
ReleasedFebruary 21, 2014 (2014-02-21)
GenreFolk rock[1][2][3]
Beck chronology
Modern Guilt
Morning Phase
Singles from Morning Phase
  1. "Blue Moon"
    Released: January 20, 2014[4]
  2. "Waking Light"
    Released: February 4, 2014[5]
  3. "Say Goodbye"
    Released: May 5, 2014 (2014-05-05)[6]
  4. "Heart Is a Drum"
    Released: July 28, 2014

Upon release the album received critical acclaim and was nominated for five awards at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards, winning three: Album of the Year, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical and Best Rock Album. Along with winning the award, Chris Martin collaborated with Beck to sing "Heart Is a Drum" at the Grammys.[8]

The roots of the album are similar to Sea Change, as well as 1993's Golden Feelings and 1994's One Foot in the Grave. Most of the critics noted the change in sound from several previous recordings, and the genre being the same as Sea Change.[9]


Beck's previous album, Modern Guilt, was released in 2008, and was the final album released under his Interscope Records contract.[10] In the interim between album releases, Beck worked on a wide variety of projects, including new studio material, most of which went unreleased for several years.[10] In October 2012, bassist and frequent collaborator Justin Meldal-Johnsen commented: "I would estimate that there are currently about three or four albums’ worth of material floating around," and Beck himself said that "I wasn't sure if I was going to put out a record – or if I should put out a record. It felt like I was standing still, while everything else was in such flux."[10]

In 2012 and 2013, Beck began to perform live with more regularity than in the years immediately following the Modern Guilt tour.[11] This period also saw new original material. The "I Just Started Hating Some People Today/Blue Randy" single was released in 2012, and he self-released the "Defriended", "I Won't Be Long", and "Gimme" singles in 2013.[12] All three of these songs were standalone releases as 12-inch singles on his own FONOGRAF label.[10] "I Won't Be Long" and "Gimme" were allegedly from an unfinished project from 2009, described as being similar to Odelay.[10] According to Beck, the remaining songs from this project may see a similar release method.[10]

In June 2013, Beck announced the expected release of two new albums for 2014, with one of the two being an "acoustic" album. The press release for the "acoustic" album (along with the news of his contract with Capitol Records) arrived in October 2013, announcing the title as Morning Phase and giving a February 2014 release window.[13] The other still-unfinished album would be planned for a later release. In comparing the production of Morning Phase with his previous album, Beck stated that prior to recording Modern Guilt in 2008, he had suffered a serious spinal injury,[14][15] and that the recording process for Modern Guilt was like "doing it with both hands tied behind your back. It hurt to sing. I'm whispering through half of those vocals."[10] On the other hand, Beck said that Morning Phase was a much more satisfying experience: "Some of the songs on the new record – I get to shout and yell. I'm like, 'Thank you!' I had a lot of ideas and things I'd been wanting to do. This last year and a half, I feel like I can really do them."[10]


In 2005, Beck began recording material in Nashville for a new album, but it remained incomplete for several years.[10] It was not until 2012 that he returned to continue the project, this time recording at Third Man Records (which, incidentally had not existed at the time of his previous sessions).[10] Two songs from these new sessions, "I Just Started Hating Some People Today" and "Blue Randy" were released that year as a non-album single on Third Man's Blue Series.[10] Other songs, like "Blackbird Chain", "Country Down", and "Waking Light" were reserved for what would become Morning Phase.[10] In the beginning of 2013, he recorded a great deal of the album in his hometown of Los Angeles in three days, with familiar studio and touring musicians Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Joey Waronker, Roger Joseph Manning, Jr., and Smokey Hormel. The next six months, Beck worked with this material for an album release.[10] His father David Campbell contributed orchestral arrangements for the album, as he had done previously for Sea Change, and most of Beck's other albums.[10]


On January 20, 2014, the album's first single "Blue Moon" was released.[4] Beck released the second single from the album, "Waking Light", on February 4, 2014.[5][16] "Say Goodbye" was released as the third single in the United Kingdom on May 5, 2014.[17] "Heart Is a Drum" was released to United States adult album alternative radio on July 28, 2014, as the fourth single.[18]


Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
The A.V. ClubB+[21]
The Daily Telegraph[22]
Entertainment WeeklyA−[1]
The Guardian[23]
The Independent[24]
Rolling Stone[2]

Prior to its release, Morning Phase was placed at number two on Stereogum's list of most anticipated albums of 2014.[27]

Upon its release, the album received acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 81 (based on 46 reviews), indicating "universal acclaim."[19]

At Mojo, James McNair stated that "Morning Phase isn't an album that obsequiously courts your approval [...] it just does."[28] Andy Gill of The Independent wrote that the album is "a deeply satisfying journey, the sadness tempered by the warmth and beauty of the settings, and the gentle determination of the resolution. Accordingly, it’s a much better album than Sea Change, just as immersive, but wiser and less indulgently wallowing."[24] According to Reef Younis of Clash magazine, Morning Phase has a "slight, melancholic tone," and "there's an awful lot to love."[29] CraveOnline's Iann Robinson rated the album 9/10, calling it a "proud successor to Sea Change" and "downtempo stroke of genius," and noting that it's some of Beck's best work in years.[30]


Publication Rank List
The A.V. Club 14 The 20 Best Albums of 2014[31]
The Daily Telegraph 12 Best 50 Albums of 2014[32]
The Guardian 8 Best Albums of 2014[33]
Mojo 1 50 Best Albums of 2014
musicOMH 7 Top 100 Albums of 2014[34]
The Huffington Post Unranked The 23 Best Albums of 2014[35]
Time Out 25 The 30 Best Albums of 2014[36]
Year Ceremony Nominated work Recipient(s) Category Result
2015 Grammy Awards[37] Morning Phase Beck
Beck Hansen, producer; Tom Elmhirst, David Greenbaum, Florian Lagatta, Cole Marsden, Greif Neill, Robbie Nelson, Darrell Thorp, Cassidy Turbin & Joe Visciano, engineers/mixers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer
Album of the Year Won
Beck Best Rock Album Won
Tom Elmhirst, David Greenbaum, Florian Lagatta, Cole Marsden, Greif Neill, Robbie Nelson, Darrell Thorp, Cassidy Turbin & Joe Visciano, engineers; Bob Ludwig, mastering engineer Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical Won
"Blue Moon" Beck Best Rock Performance Nominated
Beck Hansen, songwriter
Best Rock Song Nominated

The album received nominations for the 57th Annual Grammy Awards: Out of five nominations, Morning Phase won three: Album of the Year, Best Rock Album, and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical. Upon receiving Album of the Year, Morning Phase also beat out Pharrell Williams's G I R L, Beyoncé's self-titled album, Sam Smith's In the Lonely Hour, and Ed Sheeran's x.[38]

Commercial performance

Morning Phase debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling more than 87,000 in its first week, and becoming Beck's second highest charting album in the United States, after Guero (2005).[39] The album also reached top 10 positions in the UK, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Beck Hansen.

3."Heart Is a Drum"4:32
4."Say Goodbye"3:30
5."Blue Moon"4:03
8."Don't Let It Go"3:10
9."Blackbird Chain"4:27
11."Turn Away"3:06
12."Country Down"4:01
13."Waking Light"5:01
Total length:47:08


  • Beck Hansen – producer, vocals, acoustic guitar (tracks 2–5, 8, 9, 11 and 12), electric guitar (tracks 9 and 13), keyboards (track 2), piano (tracks 3, 5, 6 and 13), synthesizer (track 13), organ (track 13), electric bass (tracks 5 and 11), sound collage (track 3), tambourine (track 4), ukulele (track 5), charango (track 5), celeste (track 9), dulcimer (track 11), harmonica (track 12), glockenspiel (track 13), orchestral arrangements (all tracks with orchestral instruments)
  • Joey Waronker – drums (tracks 2, 3, 5, 8, 12, and 13), percussion (tracks 2, 3, 5, and 9)
  • Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – piano, synthesizers, rhodes, clavinet, B3 organ, background vocals
  • Stanley Clarke – upright bass (track 2), electric bass (track 3)
  • James Gadson – drums (tracks 4 and 6)
  • Cody Kilby – guitar (track 4)
  • Bram Inscore – electric bass (track 4)
  • Fats Kaplin – banjo (track 4)
  • Justin Meldal-Johnsen – bass (tracks 6, 8, 9, and 13)
  • Smokey Hormel – acoustic guitar (tracks 6 and 8), electric guitar (tracks 9 and 12), ebow (track 6)
  • Stephanie Bennett – harp (tracks 6 and 11)
  • Steve Richards – cello (tracks 7 and 8)
  • Roger Waronker – piano (track 8)
  • Jason Falkner – electric guitar (tracks 9, 12, and 13)
  • Matt Mahaffey – organ (tracks 9 and 13)
  • Greg Leisz – pedal steel guitar (tracks 9 and 12)
  • Matt Sherrod – drums (track 9)
  • David Campbell – orchestral arrangements, orchestrations and conducting
  • David Greenbaum – audio engineer
  • Florian Lagatta – audio engineer
  • Cole M. Greif-Neill – audio engineer
  • Robbie Nelson – audio engineer
  • Darrell Thorp – audio engineer
  • Cassidy Turbin – audio engineer
  • Joe Visciano – audio engineer
  • Bob Ludwigmastering engineer

Charts and certifications

Release history

Region Date Label Format(s) Ref
Australia February 21, 2014
Digital download [69]
Netherlands [70]
New Zealand [71]
  • CD
  • digital download
France February 24, 2014 [73][74]
United Kingdom [75][76]
United States February 25, 2014
  • CD
  • LP
  • digital download
Germany February 28, 2014 [79][80]
Poland March 3, 2014 Universal Poland CD [81]


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