Danger Mouse is more than a man; he is a sound, a frenetic, percussive groove that reaches back to the days of go-go, reinterpreted through the digital medium. And Beck has never been one to shy from yesterday’s sounds, tropicalia and folk emerging with other forms throughout his storied, innovative career.
Together on Modern Guilt, it is difficult to determine where Beck ends and Danger Mouse begins. And this is where the album succeeds. The go-go groove of “Gamma Ray,” the ribbed bass and finger-snaps of “Youthless,” and the robotic fuzz of “Replica” are the perfect summation of the relationship, Beck’s coolly unobtrusive style riding Danger Mouse’s dynamic beats with ease. Other attempts – the languid but unfocused “Chemtrails” and the sludgy “Volcano” – pale in comparison.
Leave it to Beck to make one of the most inventive albums of the year, yet one that begs to bear more than just his name on the CD cover. Modern Guilt is as much Danger Mouse as Beck, and neither should feel guilty about the few shortcomings that mark its 10 tracks. And if so, it shouldn’t be for missing the bar, but rather for setting it so damn high.
Modern Guilt is out now on Interscope Records.